Merry Christmas loyal Lagniappe readers! By the time you’re picking up this week’s edition of your favorite newspaper, the big day will have been upon us, or possibly even come and gone. More than likely you’re sitting around on the couch with a button or two of clothing undone, enzymes and stomach acids working overtime trying to digest Aunt Gertrude’s famous fruitcake while you think about this year’s haul.
Many of you are likely thinking about either regifting or returning at least one or two presents you got this year. Let’s face it, you’re hard to buy for! Short of the big man leaving a 40-foot, center-console, dual 350 Johnson open fisherman in the driveway with a bright red bow on it, everything else is kind of a crapshoot.
And retailers aren’t making things any easier. During the frenzied “Oh God! I still have to find him something he’ll love!” phase of the shopping season, we’re suddenly barraged with commercials for the dumbest possible items discounted and available for overnight delivery. They can smell the panic and know there’s no way they’ll ever move this trash without a tight buying deadline and stores so packed the average person will become homicidal within 10 minutes of walking through the front doors.
If you were watching any TV at all leading up to Christmas, you know what I’m talking about. Right before the holidays commercials for some of the most ridiculous items begin running in heavy rotation.
My absolute favorite this year has been the commercial for the “2020 Battle for the White House” political chess with “beautifully sculpted” figurines of prominent Democrats and Republicans as the pieces. What better gift for someone who loves to play chess with friends who have polar opposite political views?
In this beautifully rendered set, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are the king and queen on the GOP side, which seems like a bit of a shot at Pence given his feelings about same-sex marriage. I also can’t imagine Trump liking the fact that Pence is the far more powerful piece, moving across the board easily while Trump just tries to avoid capture. But maybe I’m psychoanalyzing this chess set too much.
Buyers also get Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the knights riding either donkeys or elephants depending upon their preferred political animal.
Four Supreme Court justices serve as bishops, and former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with their veeps, Cheney and Biden, are rooks who sit in chairs for some reason. And since the Democratic nominees haven’t been selected yet, you’ll just get a couple podiums for the time being. Don’t worry though, they’ll send the correct figurines along once the Democrats get their act together. I’m thinking Bernie Sanders would look amazing in pewter.
Imagine how much more exciting the Democratic primaries will be for people who received this chess set as a gift, as they root for the people who would make the best king and queen.
Yes, the whole thing seems so ludicrous. The ad calls it a “collector’s item,” so maybe there are a lot of people who like to collect bizarre chess sets. They also claim it will commemorate the election for decades. I’m sure 30 or 40 years from now people will love to break out the 2020 chess set and remember the fun this coming year’s election promises to be. “Remember all the tasteless names they made up for each other and endless discussion about Ukraine and impeachment? Gosh, that was fun!”
One thing the 2020 Battle for the White House chess set has done is it has made the Civil War chess set seem classy by comparison. Even so, I’m sure more than a few last-minute shoppers forked over their credit card numbers based upon the logic that “Dad likes Trump and he likes chess.”
The other ad that caught my attention pre-Christmas was for The Clapper. Yes, the product for people too lazy to actually turn lamps on and off by twisting a knob or flipping a switch. Imagine the joy of getting a Clapper on Christmas morning! It’s the gift that says, “I know you really hate moving.”
But this year they’ve sweetened the pot and added some movie blockbuster synergy by offering a Darth Vader Clapper. Smart move with the latest “Star Wars” movie hitting theaters right now.
So if you were lucky enough to get Darth Clapper for Christmas, you can now walk into a room and clap to turn on the lamp, and hear Vader’s catchphrase, “The Force is strong with this one,” and when you clap that light off, “You underestimate the power of the dark side.” Clever electricity jokes AND improved laziness? Perfect!
Chia Pets also were making a strong push in the week before Christmas. I’m sure advanced marketing has detected one or two people who actually would enjoy a Chia Pet, but in most instances I’d imagine family and friends would rather be ignored at Christmas than have to open a Chia Pet and pretend it’s a good gift or haul it home to throw away. Maybe next year The Clapper can sell a Darth Vader product that throws the Chia Pet in the trash when you clap. Just an idea.
If you did receive a political chess set, Clapper or Chia Pet for Christmas, have fun with it. Regift that sucker next Christmas. For instance, this year my sister got a painting of a fish bizarrely floating above a stream, which my mother gave me last year. Hopefully this painting will be passed around the family for years to come.
Come to think of it, that type of arrangement might be the only way anyone could enjoy a political chess set for decades.
Thank you all for reading and supporting Lagniappe through what’s now our 18th Christmas! I want to wish all of our readers and advertisers the Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of Holidays, as well as a positive and prosperous New Year. We are blessed to be able to do work we love in a place we love and hopefully make a positive impact on this community. We couldn’t do that without people reading and spending their hard-earned money advertising in Lagniappe. Thank you all! Now on to the Roaring Twenties!
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