Kids today, with their laser monsters and their Minecraft boxes and their Real Housewives dolls with interchangeable martini hands and f-bomb voice boxes, am I right? I walked into a Toys “R” Us last week, just for kicks, and you know what I found? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that look like they’ve been injecting HGH straight into their eyeballs. Ludicrous.
When I was little, we didn’t spend money on Chinese e. coli-coated lead-based plastic that auto-tweeted how many points of articulation it had. When Christmas came around, I got a stick. Not even one of those name brand Timber Baton sticks, with their ridiculous non-GMO, organic LEED certifications. I got a stick my dad peeled out from the mud under his truck’s tire wells. And you know what? It was the best damn present in the world.
Getting a stick for Christmas was a true test of imaginative grit. Were you going to cry about getting a muddy branch, or were you going to brag to all the kids at school about how you got a kick-ass samurai sword/bow and arrow/magic wand/sorcerer’s staff/unfortunately stiff Indian Jones whip/baseball bat hybrid from Santa?
I tell you, kids, when I had a stick in my hand, I had the world by the throat.
The best game to play with the Christmas stick was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When I was little, I lived across the street from these other three bozos who were brothers, and since they all got sticks for Christmas too, together we had just the right number for some oozed-up half shell justice. And obviously, we’re not talking about scary-ass Michael Bay nightmare turtles. We’re talking about genuine Jim Henson turtles.
Jim Henson or GTFO.
Most kids wanted to be Michelangelo, but that was stupid, because to get two sets of nunchuks, you had to break your stick into four pieces, and it would never go back again. Only idiots broke their Christmas stick into four pieces. If you didn’t want to be an idiot, the only turtles you could be with a good Christmas stick were Leonardo and Donatello. A lot of kids wanted to be Leonardo, ‘cause he’s the leader, and every kid wants to tell all the other kids what to do all the time. But me? I was smart. I was Donatello. ‘Cause science, bitch.
The second best game to play with Christmas stick was Rambo. (How in the world I knew what Rambo was at the age of six is another topic for another time, one that I’m sure will include a guest post from the psychoanalyst I refuse to meet with.) With your dad’s necktie wrapped around your forehead and a Christmas stick jammed up against your shoulder, there was nothing standing between you and PTSD justice except imaginary Brian Dennehy and his stupid hat. Once he was taken care of, all you had to do was take off the red necktie, and boom; instant G. I. Joe.
Kids these days are always afraid to pick up sticks and use them as toy guns. Everyone’s always like, “No, please don’t play with toy guns, they lead to future violence.” I respectfully disagree. I certainly don’t want to trivialize the sort of life-altering impact caused by a hot metal projectile pushing its way through a person’s various tissues and cells, but in my experience, playing with toy guns was more of a detriment to gun use than anything else. There’s nothing like being play-shot and having to lie down and play dead for five minutes while the rest of your friends are running around delivering roundhouse kicks to Cobra Commander’s face a few yards away to teach someone at a very early age that no one deserves the type of outcome that a gun delivers.
But I digress.
The point is, instead of blowing our paychecks on Cyber Thursday and Black Saturday and Green Blursday deals all over town and the Internets, maybe we should harken back to the good old days, when Christmas was less about which American Idol endorsed the newest Skylander Lobster Death Star Pirate Princess Ice Castle Boxed Set and more about what fun, basic items your parents could scrape up off their soggy driveways and dry with paper towels before wrapping them in newspaper and sticking them into the Christmas bush.
Oh, what, you didn’t have a Christmas bush? You had a Christmas tree? Well excuse me, Sir Fancygloves Goldenshoes. I guess we really just have nothing in common.
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Erik has planned the perfect Christmas for his family. The plan is foolproof, bulletproof and flame retardant. Nothing can undo the hours of planning and preparation. Nothing but odd-shaped packages, ill-timed fruitcakes and an errant neighborhood Santa Claus. Get it now and have a Merry Christmas.