The people bemoaned gifts that were not first-rate.
The children hung out by the chimney, displeased,
That the bulk of their wish list had still not been seized.
There was Tickle-me Elmo, a plush talking doll,
Which required an overnight stay at the mall,
And the Fisher-Price Camera, which takes real shots,
If you trust hi-tech toys to your kids (I would not).
There were Disney Princesses, and Giddyup and Go,
And a thousand more toys that no adult would know.
Yet while children had visions of these, in their bed,
All their parents had picked something different instead.
There was Tackle-Me Fred, which is not made of plush,
But when Elmo was sold out, we got this, so shush.
There were various kids toys, all purchased on sale,
In the hopes that your kids would be thankful. (It failed.)
Yet small children were not alone in their dismay
In the gifts they had gotten on that Christmas Day.
Bob had been quite excited for new Guitar Hero.
The chances he'd like Kazoo Champion? Zero.
And Sarah was eager to try out Rock Band,
But the String Quartet game wasn't what she had planned.
Mike had hoped he'd be getting a Nintendo Wii,
But instead got a hand-knitted doily. Whoopee.
Jen had thought she'd end up with that solid gold ring,
Then up in the sky, like a legend or myth,
Was a thunderous voice that said, "I'm Adam Smith!"
All the gift-getters said, "Adam, where are you, man?"
He said, "You may not see my Invisible Hand,
But I'm guiding you swiftly, it's time that you learn,
The spirit of Christmas is gifts to return!
Now doily! Now Fred doll! Now helmet of beer!
Now ill-chosen games that brought no Christmas cheer!
To the trunk of your car! To the shops in the mall!
Now go return everything, return it all!"
And then in the street, the great hum was surprising,
Twelve garage doors in unison, all of them rising.
The cars peeled out of their drives at top speed,
To exchange the bad gifts for a thing they might need.
They spoke not a word of their present concerns,
Until reaching the counters where signs said "RETURNS."
Away went the sweaters, games no one would play,
And Aunt Bertha's gift (some tacky Christmas display).
Then the credit was given, and spending was free,
As everyone went on their own shopping spree.
And I heard them exclaim, as they spent every dime,
"Buy us gift cards next year; it'd save lots of time."
Seth Brown is an award-winning humor writer, the author of "Rhode Island Curiosities," and avoids holiday gifts. His column appears weekly in the Transcript, and weakly on his Web site, www.RisingPun.com.