The holidays are nearly at an end and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or Kwanza, you have probably received some type of gift over the last couple of weeks. Some of those gifts were things that were much anticipated. Others were thoughtful expressions of the giver's love. Others were practical in nature, aiding you in daily chores and labors. Still, others were whimsical in nature, given to delight and amuse the recipient. But, there may also be amongst your gifts items that are bizarre in their nature, unwanted, and useless to you. These "gifts" are the family gifts.

Family gifts are so designated, because they are usually given by aunts, uncles, grandparents, or other members of your extended family who for all of their well-meant intention seem to be incapable of purchasing anything within the spectrum of your interest. An example of such gifts includes the numerous bird song albums you have received over the years, after taking a passing interest in what kind of bird that is on the bird feeder within earshot of a gift-desperate relative. People who give such gifts are usually tapped for ideas as to what you would like, but either feel that they should know what you would like or are too lazy to go to the effort to find out. So, instead of getting something useful, like a gift certificate, guitar pick, pastry brush, or set of jumper cables, you are given a candle from Wicks-n-Sticks in the piece of Greek sculpture. Or it may be possible that you are old enough and wealthy enough that you have the funds to purchase whatever you want to own, leaving those who feel obligated by blood to purchase you something with little option when it comes to useful gifts. So you end up with the ceramic statue of Father Christmas with a lion and a lamb, sort of a Santa Claus with a Book of Revelation twist. (It makes one hope that this is part of a set and that next year you will receive the Rudolph on the plain of Armaggedon figurine.)

Whole industries have been set up to exploit the marketing niche of family gifts. The dancing Santa Claus with music piped through a speaker 1 milimenter across are a prime example of such wares. Nearly the entire souvenir industry takes advantage of this mindset. Hence when you are given a clock shaped like South America, made of hand-chiseled marble, you know you have been the recipient of a family gift.

My wife and I have decided this year that all family gifts are going to the local Goodwill drop before the weekend is out. Hence, all of the gifts from my aunt, my sister-in-law, and my nephew are all going to be loaded into the car before the weekend is out. I would also include the rubber duck shaped like Queen Elizabeth I, but, alas, it was a gift to my mother.

All "gifts" (and I use the term loosely) that are mentioned in the above article have been received by either myself or others I know over the years. Nothing has been made up.

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