The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 18, 2013

It's the present that counts

Andy Rooney
The Clinton Herald

---- — This classic column was originally published Dec. 23, 2000.

Now that I have enough money to buy Christmas presents, it seems as if it ought to be easier than it was when I didn’t have enough. But it isn’t. It turns out money doesn’t have much to do with it. I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas presents lately:

If you see a cheap present that’s just right for someone except it doesn’t cost enough, buy it and give it to her anyway. I say “her” because I bought a cheap present for Margie. I wish I could have found one that cost more, but I couldn’t. I hope she won’t be disappointed over how little I spent.

Even though a cheap present can be good, generally speaking, expensive presents are better. One of the most unfair facts of life is that expensive things are usually better than inexpensive ones.

They say it’s the thought that counts but that’s not true. It’s the present that counts.

If I see something that I think someone would love to have but I don’t like it, I don’t buy it. You have to find something you think the person will like, but it should be something you like, too. Don’t give presents you don’t like, no matter how much you think someone else might like them.

A gift certificate is not a Christmas present. People who give gift certificates do not understand Christmas. They’re taking the easy way out. Gift certificates may be practical, but practical has nothing to do with Christmas.

Some people are easy to give Christmas presents to and others are hard. There are friends and family members who always like what I give them and others who always take my gifts back.

Once I passed the age of about 12, the best presents I got came in small packages. Small, heavy packages are the very best.

When I’m in my shop working on a piece of furniture, I can stand on my feet for hours without getting tired. Shopping for Christmas presents in a store, I’m ready to sit down and rest every half hour.

It takes too long to buy something. It’s the same at an airline ticket counter. You’d think that with all the help they get from computers, transactions would be faster than they used to be, but forget it. Store clerks pound the cash register for four or five minutes for a $ 9.47 sale. Meanwhile, the people behind you in line stack up and get mad at you as if it was your fault.

If a store emphasizes the fact that it sells “gifts,” I don’t go in. No one wants something called a “gift.” It suggests the item is useless. If it isn’t something someone would buy for himself or herself, why would they want it as a “gift”?

Great Christmas presents are rare. The best ones show people how well you know them by anticipating what they’d like to have. That’s easy to say, but sometimes you can’t find that perfect present.

Empty boxes and Christmas wrapping paper take up a lot more room once they’re removed from the presents than they do while they contain them.

Some people are hard to give to because if there’s something they want, they’ve already bought it.

On Christmas Day, after the presents are opened and even after Christmas dinner, I like to keep all my presents in one place and look at them.

I love Christmas and I love giving and getting presents, but why is it my summer vacation ends so quickly, but Christmas seems to last forever?