By TOM MAY
This year, as in every year, the month of December is brought to a close with a deluge of articles in newspapers, magazines and the web about lists. Best. Worst. Most liked. Most Hated. Most ignored. Least likely to be on next year’s list. Most intriguing celebrities. Most boring celebrity. Most celebrities who have no reason to be celebrities.
The lists are not limited to print. Every news and entertainment show on television has their own lists of lists that they must tell the world about. Even the movie theaters have lists during the time before the show starts.
The New Yorker magazine recently ran its own list — eight reasons we need lists. Elif Batuman, the author, explains, “I am contributing a list of my own, hoping to bring to others the same 30 to 45 seconds of mild interest I have received so many times myself.”
Heading the reason we need lists is the brain-washing of America. It is no coincidence that we have heard “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” about a billion times — in the supermarket, at the mall, on the radio. It stands to reason that now we want to “make a list and check it twice.”
The clever list also includes “efficiency.” During the busy holiday season, lists save us time. There is no reason to read 10 articles, listen to 10 songs, or see 10 movies. One quick article tells the ten 10 that I can now pretend to have seen — and why I liked them.
Trendy website theawesomer.com recently offered the top 10 worst top 10 lists. Included in this list are Top 10 Pixar Movies (not counting sequels, Pixar has put out .. uhh ... 10 movies), Top Items on the Taco Bell Menu That Use the Same Ingredients, Top 10 Hats That Gorillas Wear, Top 10 Worst Names For a Boy (Wolfgang is No. 3), and Top 10 Barry Manilow Songs.
Appropriate for the day, here are the top 10 gifts that you should return after Christmas. If you received one of these gifts, no explanation is necessary — you should return them immediately. The store may actually charge you money for having a friend that would give you one of these items.
10. An ant farm. I know everyone needs a pet, but this is gift over the top. Or under the ground. Perhaps just exchange the ant farm for a pet rock.
9. Anything that says “salve” on the label. Cowboyoutfitters.com’s best selling product under $25 is Bickmore’s Gall Salve, a proven medication since 1882. The multipurpose topical antiseptic ointment is effective in eliminating eczema, fungus infections and saddle sores. Happy trails!
8. A Glade air freshener. I know it looks like a candle. I know it’s festive. I know it smells good. Go to Yankee Candle. Buy a candle that looks like a candle.
7. Tacky Christmas ties, socks or underwear. It is my belief that they are all actually the same product that can be worn in various ways.
6. Anything that says “Not Sold in Stores” on the label. There is a reason that it isn’t sold in stores.
5. A blue T-shirt inscribed with “Forty and O” on the front. Right now I have a top three list of reasons not to wear this. More reasons to follow.
4. Duck Dynasty’s Christmas CD, “Have a Very Hairy Christmas.” Return this gift not because of the controversy surrounding the family. Return it because this song should never have been written.
3. Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game for Horrible People. It was the No. 1 selling item on Amazon’s “Toy and Game” category. The title says it all.
2. Tacky Christmas sweaters. Unless you are a first-grade teacher.
1. Anything that says “Chia” on the label. I know that these gifts kind of grow on you. But really.
Have a great new year.
— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org