I haven't watched many television commercials since the remote control was invented. I already have a wife to tell me what to buy, what to wear and what to think, so why bother exposing myself to the influences of Madison Avenue when I might be able catch a couple of minutes of "Duck Dynasty?"
Besides, the commercials have gotten too embarrassing to watch in mixed company. I remember when all that stuff started. Lewis Grizzard once remarked, "I'll be so happy when Cathy Rigby reaches menopause I won't know what to do." Well, I saw her playing Peter Pan at the Fox last summer -- yes, still -- and I'd say the old girl is probably pretty close. She ain't flying as high as she once was.
But back to current commercials. I don't watch them -- usually. I was forced to endure a dozen or so the other night, however, because one of my children came home for an hour and left the remote at a location known only to her and God.
To my amazement, I ran across an ad that I really liked. It's the one for the Georgia Lottery, which I will never win because you have to buy a ticket to have a chance. The commercial features a group of folks sitting around exchanging hideous and absolutely useless Christmas gifts, the point being, I suppose, that lottery tickets would have been a better choice. The ad makes me laugh because, like most humor, it is rooted deeply in truth. We have all been on both ends of the Christmas gift conundrum.
Should I give a certain person a gift, or no? If yes, what would be an appropriate gift? What if I don't purchase a person a gift and they give me one? Or what if my gift is more expensive than theirs -- or less? And we all have opened a present and had to plaster a smile on our face while wondering, "What is this?" or, more often, "What about me makes you think I would ever in a million years use/wear/need/want this particular item?"
I know! I know! It's the thought that counts and we honor the true meaning of Christmas by showing appreciation for anything another person gives us and yada, yada, yada ... But let's be honest, y'all. Some gifts just suck. If it really is the thought that counts, it is obvious that the bearer of certain gifts hasn't put any into the purchasing of said gift.
In the Georgia Lottery commercial, recipients don't even pretend to like what they have received. They are making comments like, "How awful; I'll be sure to pretend to leave this here accidently when I go home," or "What an ugly sweater. You must think I am still fat!" But they make the comments in a happy, jovial tone, and no one's feelings get hurt. I guess you have to see it. It's a funny ad, though.
Now I told you all that to tell you this. The commercial started me thinking about the worst gifts I have ever given, or received, at Christmastime. My face turned the reddest when I recalled some of the tacky costume jewelry I gave some of my old girlfriends back in my high school days. In college, I was astute enough to break up just before fall semester ended, thus escaping the humiliation of having to pick out an appropriate present. Not so in high school. I know a few girls whose necks and arms turned lime green because they weren't willing to hurt my feelings by not wearing my yuletide offerings.
I did better once I started dating my lovely wife, Lisa, however. On our first Christmas as a couple I gave her tickets to see "Annie" at the Fox. Cathy Rigby was not part of the production, by the way. That gift was a big hit. The first three years we were married I gave her lingerie that I liked a lot and she liked not in the least. I knew that reality had set in the fourth year of marriage when she took the electric blue teddy back to Rich's and traded it for a new steam iron.
I have been on the other end of the deal, however. Three straight years, in high school, my girlfriend gave me a Sports Illustrated subscription for Christmas -- or said she did. Not a single issue ever arrived at my house. She was a smart girl. She eventually graduated from Georgia Tech and moved to Hollywood and became an actress. She had practiced by acting like she had bought me Christmas presents.
Anyway, I like the commercial and, who knows -- I might just buy up a bunch of lottery tickets to give my friends this year. Maybe I'll even get a ticket myself and win a million dollars. I'll give 10 percent to my church, spend 80 percent on wine, women and song -- and then I'll probably just blow the rest.
Or maybe I'll just pay off my bills -- as far as it goes.
Happy shopping, y'all.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at email@example.com. He will be signing his new book, "Yea Though I Walk," at Evans Market, 4741 Ga. Highway 20 S, in Conyers on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.