Friday, December 9, 2016

I Can't Believe I Am Doing This Again.

"My gracious, it's been quite a year, hasn't it?" I ask, laughing halfheartedly and then breaking into terrified sobbing. And on that note: you will notice that this year's Oprah post is very late! "Surely teetering on the edge of the Apocalypse means I get out of writing my Oprah post!" I told myself BUT APPARENTLY NOT.

My original objections to Oprah's lists - the Marie Antoinette-ish disconnect from what people actually give for Christmas and the lack of any clue that most people find gift-given exhortations to self-improvement pretty damn insulting - have faded, palely, with the arrival of GOOP's list and $44 vulva-print rolling papers. Not ONLY do I not know anyone who would want $44 vulva-print rolling paper, I don't even WANT to know anyone etc. $8000 yurts for all my friends! Yeesh.

All gift guides are pretty awful and this is, I think, the nature of the beast - we can only think of the people we know which in Gwyneth Paltrow's case are cackling wealthy ghouls, like the White Witch from Narnia's friends. Oprah mostly hangs out with Gayle and Steadman, who sound nice and human and Oprah's list now feels, you know, nice. And human.

But Oprah's list is what I write about and will apparently write about forever, so bravely I forge ahead. I'm going to grade everything on whether I'd want to open it on Christmas morning, because what other metric would I use? Here we go.

Oprah's Poinsettia Flower Pot Cake
I have a nice and entirely self-preserving desire to never eat a poinsettia, which are (I think? I refuse to look this up) super-toxic. But the cake itself looks like a dream, especially because I've been on a diet for ages and I miss cake so, so much.

New Bone China Mugs
$50 for Six

I don't want these - I don't particularly want mugs as gifts, thank you, since I break things in such short order - but I included the picture because they're so nice and shiny. Let's stare at these lovely stacked mugs.

Oprah had her ears pierced in 2005 and "still get(s) really excited by a good earring." That's endearing, and if she was my friend I would TOTALLY buy her earrings. I don't have pierced ears - well, I DID but it turns out that I'm allergic to most metals as well as everything else I'm allergic to and aren't you glad to know that about me? Also I don't wear much jewelry.* But these are nice for someone who is not me.

*it occurs to me that I am HARD TO BUY GIFTS FOR.

As well as breaking every mug I touch eventually, I also lose my keys with DISTRESSING frequency. This frustrates me and makes me unhappy and it also causes me worry that it frustrates the people who love me. The gift of finding my keys again when I inevitably lose them might SOUND ideal but in reality it would reaffirm that YES, the people I live with find me aggravating and make me very sad. I don't know if this is a global reaction or if I'm made of very fine, very delicate emotional porcelain. Whatever: do not give me this.

3 cheerfully mismatched gloves and why would you possibly buy me gloves (which I hate.) when there are so many books you could get me instead?

$49 for box of 20
"Well, that's stupid," I thought as I read the description in the magazine. Then I went to the website, and saw this picture of that burning pear-thing and now I want them, for such is the fickle nature of fallible humanity.

$60 each for the cleanser and the toner and $195 for the cream
As I get deeper and deeper into my 40s, my obsession with complicated face care - which was fairly intense to begin with - has deepened and YET do not give me face care products because I will presume that you are hinting that I look like a decaying lady Cryptkeeper.

Also! these are free of "toxins" and are gluten-free! Haaaaaaaaaaaa.

Organic Grow Kit
As well as being a boon to small businesses, getting on the Oprah list must be something of a curse for the unprepared. But regardless: don't give me plants. I kill them.

$45 for set of 4
"Nothing says (healthy) comfort like mashed cauliflower," writes Oprah and I LIKE cauliflower but are we SURE about that? But! Last year I was given miniature bakeware dishes much likes these (although not in "beautiful neutrals", do I even need to add this, AND mine are heart-shaped) and I enjoy them very much because the cozy tweeness of making miniature casseroles appeals to me, as it would to all right-thinking people.

$199 each
This is some sort of home security thing that provides live HD video of your house and I guess it's alright? It's not relevant to MY life, so don't bother giving it to me but your paranoid friend would probably enjoy it.

$189 (or $260 Canadian, which I found jarring)
It's a nice enough hooded winter coat, but MAKE SURE you know your gift recipient's attitude towards down because many people will not wear it. For example: I am allergic to it! I bet you're really surprised.

Also, I'm leery of giving clothing to adults I am not REALLY close to, because it's so easy to go wrong, by, let's say, giving them a sweater that's several sizes too big, and then having them darkly mull over that for the next calendar year.

"I want to wish all of you joy - because there is no better gift," writes Oprah, from the Better and Now Lost Past. And if this book (which I frankly do not want) would work, I'd buy it for all my friends. 

I don't travel anywhere near enough for this to be in any way relevant for me, but you might know someone who travels a lot and would like a desperately unexciting utilitarian gift.

I don't want them - and more on that in a second - but I'm including the picture because they're so shiny and pretty.
And as lovely as they are, they're still salt and pepper grinders, and fancy salt and pepper grinders fall into my personal Making The Best of Awful, Awful Adulthood category.

$20-60 each
Frog-belly green various brushes. 
1) It's nice to see the Oprah still loves that frog-belly green shade that I loathe.
2) Hair brushes just.... happen? Don't give them as gifts?

$116 each
Oprah uses the word "schlumadinka" here, which I find gently enchanting. These cardigans and pull-on pants are not schlumadinka, apparently, and are also "feathery-soft" and cozy clothing, suitable for sobbing bleakly in, sounds like JUST the thing.

Running shoes! No thank you!
Here is my traditional reminder that UNLESS THE PERSON YOU ARE GIVING TO HAS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED EXERCISE EQUIPMENT, GIVING EXERCISE EQUIPMENT IS INSULTING. Like, you might be thinking "I love them and want to give them the gift of health!" but what you're risking is your loved one HEARING "I hate your gross body and here are running shoes as punishment."

But if they asked for running shoes: here are some.

Most little kids I know have OBNOXIOUS numbers of stuffed animals and parents that silently despise you if you give them more, so maybe check if they could use another. But if they could, this set of stuffed animals IS incredibly cute.

Cell Case & Card Sleeve Crossbody
$25 each and I don't have a link to them for some reason, which I'm too lazy to figure out right now.
Oprah's friend Urania has one of these. Urania! That's such a great name!
*I tried to link to Buddy the Elf saying "Francisco" here and failed, so let's just pause and remember that scene.*
Although I wouldn't wear this, my M totally would, and it seems like a fine gift for the minimalist woman on your list.

Food Health and Happiness Book
Oprah wrote a cookbook! I think it sounds pretty great - I love cookbooks - but it's not out until early January, which is a bit oddly timed for Christmas. Still, it's a solid choice for your Oprah-loving, health-conscious aunt.

It's purple, which I love, AND it theoretically will keep me from scalding myself while making spaghetti AGAIN, so YES. Give me this pot and I can dramatically sing "Purple Rain" while making dinner.

One of those griddle/waffle-maker/grill combos and I HAD one of these and wore it out! I have a narrow list of people I'd cheerfully receive small appliances from, and my husband is NOT on them, but it someone else got me this, I'd be delighted.

They ARE super-cute reading glasses and IF your recipient has asked for reading glasses, by all means. 

It's a hoody! It's a cowl-neck! It's off the shoulder! I love fussy sweaters, despite the fact that they're rarely flattering and would deeply love this sweater too, but probably only in black.

So that's one hundred and thirty two human dollars, for - let's see - a tub of soaking salts, a tub of foot cream and a pair of socks!

Also, gift-given exhortations to "fix your feet!" aren't welcome by most people.

I WAS going to write about how the dark-underside of the word "preppy" has been lost over time - and what has been lost with that - but then I was distracted by how cute the bag with the plaid thermoses is and THAT is how things happen, one cute tote bag at a time.

Also: that's a cute tote bag!

Like everyone else, I was given a ton of colouring books and pencils LAST year and still have not bleakly coloured my way through all of them so I'm good, thanks.

The purple scarf is SO pretty.
Becoming a lady who wears scarves all the time doesn't surprise me - it seems like something I'd do - and it's given everyone an easy gift-giving shortcut for me. As a result, I know have enough scarves to outfit the necks of an army of me, and would like more as well. 

I've done a dramatic 180 on my original opinion on robes, which was - very wrongly - that they were terrible gifts and now I've realized, like all right-thinking people, that robes are amazing presents and really good to cry in. This is a fine, tasteful robe, and the neutral colours won't hurt your eyes after prolonged sobbing.

These are wireless headphones. They are $200. I mean, if you'd like to, FINE.

They're very pretty candles and I LOVE scented candles and yet - like perfume - scented candles are pretty personal. I personally only like candles that smell like someone is making me a nice cake and not like I'm burning a tree, so don't get me these

These are fine, I guess. If you're getting me one, I'd like it in black.

Here it is! The thing I'd like the least from THIS ENTIRE LIST!
And this is such a singular thing, isn't it? There probably ARE people who would find this just thrilling but my gracious, I am NOT one of them.

Remember Victoria magazine? I LOVED that so much in high school, and it made me think life would be full of far more drawer sachets and lovely dried flowers than it has turned out to be. So it's ABOUT TIME that someone gave me this, and I could scent all of my long plaid skirts, suitable for wandering fields with my travel watercolour sets, instead of what adulthood has REALLY been about (trying to catch up on the effing laundry).


SO! This digital frame automatically displays whatever picture is most recent on your phone. Let us imagine, for a second, that you give this to your grandma.
NOW let us imagine that one day, you're feeling saucy and take a series of saucy pictures to send to your beloved. You're a grown-up! You can do what you like! And your poor grandma accidentally gets an eyeful.

This is fine, but I'm mostly including that pleasantly citrusy picture to try and sear the image from your mind of your grandma standing - horrified yet unable to look away - as you unwittingly send nude after nude to her digital frame in an attempt to take the one perfect saucy picture to text your husband.

It's a water bottle you can stuff fruit pieces into! I don't want it.

"These edgy handmade cuffs have Gayle written all over them!" writes Oprah and I hope Gayle enjoys them but I would NOT, thank you.

$24 for 12
They're those stretchy elastic hair ties, packaged to look like candy and I would like you to imagine my levels of deep, deep existential despair upon realizing that my box of cheerful ribbon candy (an ALRIGHT gift) is actually a box of hair elastics.

Oh no. Not for me, thank you.
But I'm aware this isn't a universal no - for some people, this would be a delightful gift. This is more a personal nope. Moving along.

I have the Kindle app on my New Phone (which I also have now and it is DELIGHTFUL and I LOVE it) and it gets used a lot, but I had some electronic e-reader before and never used it at all, so I have no idea what my feelings about this actually ARE. Mixed? Can I say mixed?

"Have you spent the best years of your life grating, dicing, slicing, and doing the whole julienne thing?" writes Oprah. "Destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked?" writes Allen Ginsberg.
And no, as mentioned earlier, I've spent my best years sulking and washing towels.

I don't particularly want this but it DOES look like brutal, fruit-slicing fun.

$16 each
These aren't ACTUALLY "ew", but the urge to spell something rude was overwhelming to me - because I'm a bad person - and my other rude word choices wouldn't fit.
My mom - and I think I write this every year when encountering keychains - has a Daffy Duck keychain because his splayed duck legs are easy to find in her purse. I'm certain the sharp edges of those letters would be equally easy to find in your purse, as well.

Here it is! The thing I want most of all on this entire list! Those are ADORABLE!
I was also in a situation this summer where I was forced to endure someone else's incorrect musical choices because THEY OWNED THE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER and have since then been possessed of the need to have my own Bluetooth speaker so this never, EVER happens to me again.

 Set of 6 Marbled Plates
$68 for six
Pretty! And - if given to me - doomed!

This is a water-filtering pitcher and the FILTER IS MADE OF COCONUT SHELL OH MY GOD. I am SO allergic to coconut and this casual use of coconut in a product that people might not even think of warning houseguests about distresses me.

These are fine, even if I find segmented clothing like that rather reminiscent of a caterpillar's bumps. Still! Quite nice!
I got a pair of knee-high boots on DEEP sale and everywhere I go, people compliment them and I'm always frozen because DO I TELL THEM THEY WERE $35 or what? It's anecdotes like this that make this gift guide critique such a winner.

$13-40 each
There's my desire to never wear horizontally-striped, form fitting one piece pajamas, but it is at deep war with my cruel wish to have all of my huge sullen adolescent children wear unflattering matching pajamas. "Ha ha!" I think, from some deep, best-examined part of my psyche. What a merry Christmas morning that would be!

It's a giant red lipstick! You'd need to use a brush to put it on, but it amuses me.

I write this HORRIBLE LIST in order and just had the cheering thought that maybe I'm almost done! I made the mistake of scrolling down and oh, no, I am not. O DEATH WHERE IS THY STING.

So. It's a brightly coloured wallet. I don't know if being hot pink makes a wallet more FUN, but it's alright.

Those ARE fun! I would like one very much even though I don't think I've ever needed a clutch in my entire life. Do you ever use clutches? Is your life great? Do you spend less than 25% of your waking hours doing laundry?

OOOoooh, you aerate your wine! Aren't YOU fancy. 
I would probably love this, to be frank. I love being fancy.

It's sixty bucks for a pail of presents for your dog, and alright, if you want to get that for your dog, go ahead but I am ALL out of patience for the phrase "dog parents", no. No comparison, don't.

A Short Play Wherein Oprah And I Run Into Each Other While Wearing The Same Excellent Boots
Oprah: (graciously) I love your boots
Me: (super awkwardly) THEY WERE $180 

My Christmas gift to you is sending you to my Google search for "People Wearing Avegant Glyph" and YOU ARE WELCOME.

$138 each
They are big, attractively glazed handmade bowls and are very nice, but what I find off-putting is Oprah's suggestion: "Fill one with beautiful fruits or pinecones for a personal gift."
Pinecones as a gift are fine if you're 3 and just back from a walk with your grandpa but from an adult, it's a little bizarre. Please don't give people a (lovely!) bowl filled with pinecones.


This is a sweet little thing and I am POSSESSED of the need to own it despite the fact that I do not travel AND I DON'T LIKE JEWELRY! But I suppose I could develop a taste for both leaving my lovely, lovely house and personal adornment, all so I could have the pleasure of owning this elegant little travel case.

This t-shirt is "truly a goes-with-anything" writes Oprah and for ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS, I SHOULD HOPE SO.
Not to be grimly Calvinist, but that is TOO MUCH MONEY FOR A T-SHIRT.

$72 a pair
More jewelry and not for me, obviously, but fine.

$150 for 22 Butter nail polishes and a lazy Susan
Recently, my daughters and I counted all of our collected bottles of nail polish and we have OVER 100 BOTTLES OF NAIL POLISH so we are good, thank you. We have enough.
I suspect if someone gave us a fancy set, like this, we could just toss all of our old polish out. 

There's a nice plum one that I briefly caught myself thinking "Oh, I'd like that," and then I remembered my NEVER GIVE FITNESS OR HEALTH GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS UNLESS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED mantra. But if someone ASKS for a Fitbit, these are very cute.

"Talk about cute and comfy," writes Oprah. 

It's a nice enough sweatshirt and I would be quite pleased to get it, assuming that it's neither forest green nor burgundy.

Brightly coloured hand-knit toques with pompoms on them, just like the ones your grandma used to knit you! Except these cost $60 and you're an adult now. But hey, it's been a wretched year and if this makes you happy, then it's a lovely and good thing.

This is an air fryer, which means, I guess, that you can deep fry foods without all the pesky heart disease and that sounds good, I guess. I don't eat deep fried foods now but it sounds spiffy.

I mean, I'd certainly enjoy this, but BELIEVE me when I tell you that I am in NO WAY discerning enough to require a $99 bottle of wine.

It's a big smart tv? I'm not entirely sure what a "smart tv" is, because I just have a regular (although fairly fancy) television and it just seems like a big chunk of plastic or glass or whatever tvs are made of. My caveat is to be certain that your recipients WANT a big tv because giving people large things for their house can be very aggressive and unwelcome, even when they're big expensive televisions.

Another gift for human children and not - God help us - "fur children." 
And these are very cute! My youngest child would like these very much.

A set of four lip glosses and lipsticks and they all seem to be in lovely, generally appealing colours so A+ for this lipstick set.

For the love of God. This is a microfleece blanket with your effing dog's picture on it.

Your dog does not need a $400 blanket. Your dog DOES NOT CARE. Your dog is not a "fur baby." It is a dog.

If you think your dog would like a blanket, go grab him a $5 fleece blanket from Giant Tiger. You can wash it EASILY when it gets foul (and it will because dogs are DISGUSTING). It's practical! and then take the other $395 and donate it to actual human children who are suffering and who have actual needs. This is a time when our moral actions have serious consequences, and buying $400 luxury goods FOR YOUR PET is a moral action.

I guess my exception to this is for the very rich - so, Oprah - who have donated SO much to charity this year and $400 is just a drop in the bucket and a way to dote on their pet. But I'm not very rich (ho, ho) and neither are you, probably.

I am STILL MAD at the dog blanket. But this is, I guess, fine? It looks sort of old-ladyish, but I generally only use that in the most approving of ways, and this looks like a fine thing for the frequent traveler of your acquaintance. Can I imagine Jessica Fletcher using this? Why, yes I can.

I have no clue about this sort of thing - it looks fine, I guess? - but I've heard about this particular luggage A MILLION TIMES THIS YEAR, so good job, Raden's publicity department!

Bath sets in wild ginger, carrot, and grapefruit.
1. Ouch to the very idea of soaking my delicate ladybits in ginger.
2. "Carrot" as a bath scent? 
3. Oprah wrote "Now I get to combine two of my great loves in life: farming and bathing!" and I thought that was fun, so I googled "farm bath gif" WITHOUT SAFE SEARCH ON and my eyes, my poor sweet eyes. Why are you LIKE that, internet?
Instead, here is a sweetly innocent panda splashing around.

Isn't that pretty? That's pretty. I'd truly love to be given a big expensive stack of candy coloured throws. It's not going to happen but it's a lovely photo.
Does anyone actually KNOW what "herringbone" IS, as a pattern?

Pretty glossy boxes to keep all your glasses in. This makes me wonder how many pairs of glasses the average glass wearer HAS - most people in my house wear glasses and have 2 pairs each, max. Hm

It's a mattress! One year my in-laws gave us a boxspring set to replace the futon we'd been sleeping on and it was AMAZING and just writing about it makes me feel like going back to bed instead of yammering on about Oprah's list.

$89 with code
It's a small appliance that turns frozen fruit into sorbet and we were given one much like this last year and have never taken it out of the box because we are clods and not deserving of good health. Also, you can use a blender to do the same thing, and a blender already takes up a preset amount of counter space.

I'm writing this in mid-December instead of mid-November, which is when I NORMALLY write this and mid-December is when I suddenly am cold ALL THE TIME so I would like a slenderizing puffer vest RIGHT NOW THANK YOU VERY MUCH. 

Gingham pajamas and rather endearingly fun in a "I put away all my erotic hopes and dreams" sort of way.

Do people still wear watches? Yes? Here is a watch?

I find Gordon Ramsay's whole THING so unappealing that I can't even imagine spending money on something that profits him.
A man yelling abusively in a woman's face. NICE. So yeah, I'm not buying this.

It's a cute-enough lined backpack/diaper bag and I'm so beyond all of this that I'm going to go someplace else and cry but it would be nice for first-time parents.

1. It's a $400 hair dryer.
2. It looks like a high tech magic wand.
3. It also looks like... um... a toy... for men.... 

Oh, absolutely, yes. (That's the Bronte set but there's lots of incredibly lovely sets to choose from.)

Oh, come ON. Don't give people work-out clothes unless THEY HAVE ASKED YOU FOR WORK-OUT CLOTHES.

Fancy pound cakes! And I'm in the FOOD section of the Oprah gift list, where my critical facilities shut down and I turn into a being of pure yearning.

I wish I was eating a fancy pound cake RIGHT NOW.

A crate filled with 8 bags of potato chips and they were grown in re-purposed lots in Detroit and the whole thing sounds terrific.

I do not approve of flavoured maple syrups - THEY ALREADY HAVE A FLAVOUR AND IT IS MAPLE - but these are likely delicious or whatever. I'll never know, since I only chug maple syrup from Canada, like the SUPER PATRIOT that I am.

When I become off-puttingly, hugely wealthy, I'm going to have to find my own alienating niche rich-person food to suggest to people that isn't truffles because yuck, truffles.

YES PLEASE. I would like this pile of cheese right now, thank you.

Here is a recipe for Christmas crack, which is both kind of gross and irresistible to eat in DISGUSTING quantities. If you gave me multiple boxes of fancy toffee, I'd probably eat too much of that, too.

English muffins and jam? Isn't that... groceries? I mean, maybe you're coming over for breakfast or something? 

It's a set of grapseseed oils for cooking and guess what! I AM ALLERGIC TO GRAPESEED OIL (because of COURSE I am) but anyhow. Before giving people food gifts, check for allergies.

Aw, yes. Eating homemade biscuits (preferably made by my mom) and honey sounds like a great time.

$65 for eight cookies in each of 3 flavours. That's 24 cookies for $65. They are nicely packaged... chocolate chip cookies. I mean, they look nice but I also have faith that you can make 24 chocolate chip cookies for less than $65.

It's a box that looks like a book, filled with fancy chocolates. YES. This is my whole thing RIGHT here. I want to be eating those while everyone heads off to work and school, and laying on the couch in a fancy robe for maximum effect.

I'm not even really sure what a grit is. Would I like them? Are they good?

Very, very predictably: I am allergic to almonds. Please feel free to buy me many of their other baked goods.

I'm not certain what spice rubs are FOR. What am I rubbing them on? Why am I doing this? Is this a good set? I have no clue.



  1. The GIFs were particularly entertaining, Beck. Also, my favorite bit: A Short Play Wherein Oprah And I Run Into Each Other While Wearing The Same Excellent Boots
    Oprah: (graciously) I love your boots
    Me: (super awkwardly) THEY WERE $180
    **standing O*

    (I know you are tired of doing these, and I know they are a pain, but they are a rather wonderful gift to your public, so thank you.)

  2. This made me want to copy you and do Goop b/c I have an unashamed disdain for Paltrow and her ilk. But she has TEN gift guides on Goop. TEN I SAY.

  3. I love you always. This is the best Christmas gift you could give us. This post makes MY list of things to give people who love people. :-)

  4. Yay! I was just beginning to think you were quitting the Oprah list, and may have almost woken the sleeping child on my lap by squealing with delight when this post popped up. Love it!

  5. Thank you for your service, Beck. Your Oprah blog is always one of my favorites of the Christmas season.

  6. Love this discussion, as always. I always agree with you wholeheartedly - because we think alike, or because your charming analysis is so persuasive? All I know is that even though I also never wear jewelry, I totally want one of those jewelry travel cases. So charming!

  7. "If you think your dog would like a blanket, go grab him a $5 fleece blanket from Giant Tiger." Hilariously so Canadian!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing these creative and wonderful ideas. Gifting an air-fryer is another great gift. Thanks to it you can cook delicious and yet healthy food for less than 30 minutes. If you would like to find out more info, check this link:

  9. Thanks For sharing this information. It’s Nice..!!!