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All I Don’t Want For Christmas

December 20, 2013

A few days ago, Solid Gold Creativity had a very moving post about The Big Issue.  I hadn’t heard of the magazine before, but it is published by a not for profit organisation that supports the homeless and marginalised.  It is sold by homeless and disabled people who earn income from the sales.

A recent issue in Australia included Christmas wishes to readers from some of the people who are selling the magazine on the streets.  The messages are simple and beautiful—full of thanks and good will and completely devoid of selfishness.

Hearing these kinds of sentiments from some of the poorest people in society was both inspiring and disturbing.  What made it disturbing was that I had just returned from the US where the twelve days of Christmas seem to last about twelve weeks.  Any altruistic sentiments were totally lost in the retail extravaganza of Black Friday and the non-stop playing of tacky Christmas carols on radio, TV and in any public venue.

On the plane on the way home, in a suitably festive mood as you can imagine, I started to flip through the complimentary magazines and found out some of the exciting things on offer in the gift and technology department this year.  I usually never look at those magazines because I get nervous when I think that the kind of people they seem to be intended for might actually exist.

This time was no exception.  The gifts and technology wow factors on offer were truly scary.  It was a little confusing because interspersed among real things you can buy are effusive descriptions of new technologies that are on offer to make our lives better.  The question is not whether you would want some of these things.  The question is why anyone would want them.

I kept the magazine to show people when I got home and had another look at it after reading the post about The Big Issue.  Talk about a sobering thought.  The gap between the world of the people selling The Big Issue and the intended market for the products in the magazine is, for lack of a better word, obscene.

1. Backyard Television.

For those who consider a television in every room too pedestrian, you can now have an entertainment system installed in your back yard.  The centrepiece is a 201 inch (that’s almost 17 feet!) screen that “stores itself underground.”  Also included is a library of over 300 movies and concerts.

The price tag for the system is from $1.5 to $2.6 million, presumably depending on how hard it is to hide the TV when it’s in the ground.  I guess if you can afford to lay out that kind of money on a TV in the back yard, you can also afford to live in a place where the neighbours aren’t going to be bothered by a 17 foot TV screen in the back yard.  But then again, if you have that kind of money, wouldn’t you and your friends have better things to do than sit in the back yard and watch TV?

2. Pillow speakers.

Yes.  A pillow with built-in speakers.  As the blurb says, “It’s perfect for you if you hate tangled wires in bed.”  Think about that.  Non-stop sensory stimulation has become so normalised that someone has come up with a solution to tangled wires in bed.  The blurb also says, “If you’re [sic] teen loves to hear music, it’s a fine gift this Christmas.”  Better parenting through technology—always a winner

3.  Carriage Bed

A company called Posh Tots offers a bed that looks like a Cinderella carriage.  For a mere $47,000.  The blurb says it all:  “Treat the little princess in your life like just that [sic].  This carriage-inspired bed is the perfect sleep and play station for making dreams come true.”


I don’t know where to start so I’ll just mention the use of the words “sleep and play station.”  Something for the kid to enjoy until they grow up and spend time at their work station?

4. Zero Gravity Wedding

For $18,000 you can go up in a plane that dives and simulates weightlessness and get married at the same time.

5.  Hover Bike

Now this one is pretty good, but impractical.  It is a James Bond type helicopter/bicycle.  You can’t buy one because they are still testing the prototype but you can put your name on the list to buy one for $46,000.   It has several good, practical applications but because it can fly at 170 miles per hour a few feet above the ground they are probably not going to be widely available to the average commuter.


6.  Last, but not least, the iPad Baby Seat.

Called the “Apptivity Seat,” this infant rocker includes an iPad holder.  And don’t forget the ‘iPotty’ which is a toilet training seat with an iPad holder.  The idea is get the kid to sit there long enough.  How has the human race survived?



I don’t know about you, but I think that before we run out and book a zero gravity wedding we should think about the lady in Australia who thanked the people who tipped her when she sold them a magazine because “I get my hair done and buy new clothes.”

17 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2013 11:12 am

    When you commented on my page about the iPotty I really, really hoped you were joking.

    I know (slightly) someone who once — not at Christmas — hired a limo to deliver his son to a party that was given for his school footie team because the kid was going to receive a “Most Valuable Player” award. A decent sort, at least in all our interactions, but I wanted to ask him, what will you do for an encore when he gets his Ph.D. or gets married? I guess we have some ideas now.

    • December 20, 2013 5:13 pm

      Would I joke about something like that?
      Yes, the kid will need a zero grav wedding to maintain his consuming trajectory.

  2. December 20, 2013 4:46 pm

    Thank goodness you could insert some sics ..

    Thank you for appreciating their words. I cry every time I read it. The wealthier most human beings, the less able to experience and express gratitude; the less weathy they are, the more able to experience and express it.

    I heard someone say the other day that the Lottery Office has banks of counsellors standing by for the people who win. They can predict what problems the wealth is going to bring up.

    • December 20, 2013 5:12 pm

      Thanks! Wasn’t sure if I should ask before referring to your post–thank you for making it available.

  3. Snoring Dog Studio permalink
    December 21, 2013 1:34 am

    It is awfully disturbing to see this obscene capitalism at play. What message do you leave your little girl with by giving her the Princess carriage bed? Ugh.

  4. December 21, 2013 11:10 am

    Utterly ridiculous, and that’s not even addressing the fact that the people writing the captions are grammatical morons. Please know that many Americans think these objects, the prices, and the fact that apparently there is market for such nonsense is as distressing as you do.

  5. December 21, 2013 5:37 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with SGC about gratitude. I think that to stereotype “wealthy people” as not expressing gratitude as often/much as homeless or destitute is to make a sweeping generalization, dismissing the many philanthropic causes that wealthy people support and contribute to anonymously.
    Creating a class divide contributes to guiding beliefs that are not true.

  6. Gail Robertson permalink
    December 23, 2013 4:27 pm

    Tom, the mind boggles. I have two grandchildren -41/2 female 21/2 male. Their parents use the toy library and their playroom is so overcrowded with toys you can hardly get in. As such they have very short attention spans. When they visit me, I have a toy box with cardboard, paper, string, egg cartons etc (along those lines).They spend hours making, constructing, pretending- they love it. Back to basics. I liken some of those gadgets to the toy library – what is left for later in life. I sometimes gaze at these magazines but as yet, have not been tempted. Still enjoying your blog along with Cue Haven. Gail.

  7. December 23, 2013 7:23 pm

    Thanks, Gail!

  8. December 26, 2013 4:38 am

    This line killed me:
    ‘I usually never look at those magazines because I get nervous when I think that the kind of people they seem to be intended for might actually exist.’

    Merry Xmas Thomas!

  9. December 26, 2013 2:44 pm

    I want a hover bike, kinda like in Star Wars.

  10. January 12, 2014 10:07 am

    A very interesting post (and article). Sorry to disagree with Cheri but in 65 years I too had the impression that altruistic sentiments are more widespread among the poor and the simple than among the rich. Besides this is what Christ has taught us after all. And realistic literature (Balzac, Dickens etc.) is full with misers and Ebenezer Scrooges.

  11. January 15, 2014 5:03 pm

    Hello Man of Roma,
    My point is that over generalizing about the rich or poor is usually in error. We do this to feel better about what we stand for. Better to go forward with our intentions (of helping the less fortunate) without making statements that cannot be validated with data or anything else. Who knows who gives how much to the Wounded Warrior Project or to St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital?

    One might be surprised what would happen to non-profits or to many charitable foundations without the financial support of the wealthy. That was my point. Overgeneralizing is often a sociological or political tool.

  12. February 9, 2014 4:13 am

    I’ve come across the iPotty before and when I consider kids, their sanitary habits, and what they are actually doing on the potty, that is one iPad I would not touch with my bare hands.

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