That’s right, friends and neighbors; this week will break the century mark for getting your Christmas shopping done early. Time to get on board the old anxiety wagon about what to get your significant other for Christmas. As a public service, this week’s column will serve as the Gentleman’s Guide for Appropriate Gifts for the Little Woman.
Christmas is a time of tradition. What better way to figure out what tradition is than to look at Christmas ads from the mid-20th century? It was a kinder, gentler time, back when America was great. The Little Woman could be overjoyed with the gift of kitchen appliances. Ponder the gifts that once warmed the cockles of the hearts of ladies of the 1950s.
My favorite ad is for Hoover, which shows a ’50s lady in a flowered dress lying on the floor, admiring and caressing her new bow-bedecked vacuum cleaner. The ad says, “Christmas morning she’ll be happier with a Hoover.” She’s reading a thoughtful card from her husband contemplating the many happy hours she will spend vacuuming rugs as she tidies up the cottage for her man to come home to after a long day’s work. Not to be outdone, husbands can tickle the fancy of their wives with America’s most distinctive toaster, the 1948 Proctor Automatic Pop Up toaster. It’s “the ideal gift ... durable … dependable, the toaster with Color Guard.” Hubby is smiling by the Christmas tree, proudly holding up the toaster as if it were his firstborn child with the caption, “Ways to please a lady.” The toaster is “guaranteed to bring a truly heart felt Thank You ... there’s no extra charge for hugs and kisses.” Bring back the old spark to your marriage by giving her a toaster.
A Bird’s Custard ad features a creepy-looking Snowman holding a flaming custard with copy saying, “Everybody knows Christmas pudding is always better with Bird’s custard.” Who knew? The Tupperware ad has Wifey sitting in a yoga pose dressed in a Mrs. Santa outfit admiring a stack of Tupperware she is balancing in her hand. The ad says, “Gee, how she’s going to love this Tupperware. Who wouldn’t love these beautiful plastic food containers?” Which raises the existential question, is there anyone with a soul so dead that they would not love a beautiful plastic food container? If there were anyone so insensitive about beautiful plastic food containers, then Ronald Reagan had just the right gift for such a lout. The gift of Christmas-wrapped cartons of Chesterfield cigarettes. Ron is smoking and saying: “I’m sending Chesterfields to all my friends. That’s the merriest Christmas any smoker can have.”
If you can’t love plastic, then off with your head, have a cigarette.
Mutual of Omaha suggests the perfect gift is “Easy Mind” health insurance. Dad is in the toy store pushing Little Billy in a metal car. Billy thinks Santa will bring him the car. Imagine Billy’s surprise when he opens his present and finds a health insurance policy inside. 7-Up shows Christmas carolers in the snow about to enjoy a frosty 7-Up. “Merry Christmas to all from the All Family Drink! So pure ... so good ... so wholesome for everyone ... including the tiniest tot.” Christmas is the perfect time to get those tiny tots hooked on 7-Up.
We all associate Reynolds Aluminum with Christmas. Reynolds’ ad shows a cheery mom decorating an aluminum Christmas tree surrounded by aluminum kitchen appliances. “Here’s a Merry Christmas combination for this year — a glittering, permanent Christmas tree of aluminum with light, bright, and lasting aluminum housewares and utensils around it.” Nothing says remember the birth of baby Jesus like an aluminum Christmas tree.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without Betty Crocker fruitcake featuring the spicy old-fashioned version or the dark deluxe mutation fruitcake. Other than roaches and Twinkies, the only thing that will survive a nuclear attack by the North Koreans will be fruitcakes. Imagine the festive fun you will have gnawing on a fruitcake in the crawl space of your house while waiting for the all-clear to sound as the radiation dies down to an almost survivable level.
The Rid Jid Knee Room Ironing table claims approval by Mrs. Santa Claus, who is sitting comfortably at her ironing board reading letters to her. She proudly announces that the ladies are unanimous, “They all want the same thing, Santa... My Ironing Table.” God rest ye, merry gentlemen if you give your wives appliances for Christmas. Ye shall be resting in the dog house. Be wise. Ignore this column. The wife you save, may be your own.