The Parents’ Passive-Aggressive Holiday Gift Guide

As you know, I have a son. He’s three years old and I love him to death. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me that I occasionally wish had never happened to me.

This Christmas is the first time he really, truly gets it, to the point that he actively flips through circulars and points at the toys he wants added to his list (two years ago I wrote about the gifts he wouldn’t be getting). We’re going to give him a good Christmas, and he’ll get more than he needs, much more than he deserves, and nowhere near as much as he wants. All I want in return is a smile and some laughter and a lot less screaming. And, because I’m petty and small, I wouldn’t mind if he experienced a little bit of the frustration that the holiday season brings me.

With that in mind, I put together a list of items you can get for your young children that will give you as much joy as Christmas gives them by giving them as much aggravation as your kids sometimes give you.

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  • Toys That Need Batteries WITHOUT THE BATTERIES
  • This is a double-bonus. Not only will you watch your kid’s face go from delighted (the toy I wanted!) to confused (what’s a battery?) to annoyed (where are my batteries?!), without batteries the toy won’t be able to make noise. Your kid will, though (prepare for screaming), so I’d suggest giving him this one after you’re already a few egg-nogs deep.

  • Clothes
  • Oh, I’m sorry, you thought that huge, intricately wrapped box was full of something awesome, like action figures or a video game? Sorry, it’s a couple of sweaters from Grandma. Welcome to Christmas as an adult. GET USED TO IT.

  • Booze
  • I’m not going to give my kid booze. At least not to drink. But I will let him open a box that has booze in it, and then I’ll tell him he can’t have it for another 18 years, because that’s what it’s like to have a kid. You know it will eventually be fun but it’s going to be a while.

  • Savings Bonds
  • This isn’t even passive-aggressive. It’s just plain aggressive. You might as well give your kid an empty box.

  • “The Wire” box set
  • Two options here: 1) tell him he can’t watch it because it’s too violent and then go watch it alone with a six-pack while he’s locked in his room OR 2) make him watch it with you so he has nightmares about corner boys and overdoses until next Christmas.

There are a few other items that might sound like good passive-aggressive gifts but would actually backfire.

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My most frequent expression during the holiday season

  • A Bunch of Stuff He Doesn’t Want Along With the Gift Receipts Nothing says “the joy of Christmas” like forcing someone to go shopping. It’s diabolical… except you’ll have to go along. More time at the mall? NO THANKS.
  • Books You might think giving a kid that can’t read a couple of books is a solid “fuck you” move, but you’re just punishing yourself because you’ll end up being forced to read them to him. SNOOZE FEST.

There you go. Hopefully the knowledge that your kids will learn a little something about the reality of Christmas – as opposed to the candy-colored version they grow up enjoying – will help make the burden of gift-shopping just a little easier to bear.

If seeing your kid open those gifts doesn’t get you the reaction you want, just tell him Santa Claus is dead. That’s much more traumatizing than a simple “he doesn’t exist.”


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One thought on “The Parents’ Passive-Aggressive Holiday Gift Guide

  1. I smell a new holiday special … ‘The Year with a Passive Aggressive Santa Claus’

    And don’t just wrap clothes in a big, beautiful box. Make sure it’s socks. Black socks. Maybe the gold toe type if you’re feeling festive.

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