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December 18, 2010

This is the ninth installment in a 20-part series entitled, "Harmful Christmas Gift of the Day." I worked as a Picker of items at an Amazon.com processing warehouse for a good chunk of the holiday season, and the only thing I got out of it was a list of disturbing, harmful items parents are buying for their children (or each other) this Holiday. Today's item is a special item, and not really an "item" at all per se: Whatever You Ordered Too Late. This article and many more at my site http://www.YeahHeDid.com!

Today brings you a special edition of the Amazon.com "Pick" of the day posts you've read so much on here. It involves a form of Christmas "gifting" that has gone on in my house for years, and is one I'm sure at least some of you have faced yourselves on the more forgettable, regrettable Christmases of your pasts.

We're going to move right into a scenario for this post, as it seems the best way to get where I'm going with this without writing 1500 words like I usually do. You're the parent of young Cindy Lou Michaels, an adorable 6-year old girl with a very modest Christmas list. You see, Cindy Lou lives and breathes Dora the Explorer, the wonderful TV show in which, through an entire season, Dora explores the world and teaches you 3 or 4 arguably useful Spanish words along the way.

All Cindy wants for Christmas is a Dora doll that she can play, eat and sleep with 24 hours a day... one that will utter a few encouraging phrases every once in a while to keep things just interesting enough. Problem is, it's December 22... 5PM... and you haven't ordered it from Amazon yet.

You knew you had to order it by 9am on the 22nd to ensure that Amazon's two-day shipping would bring it to your doorstep by Christmas. Problem is, you went out with some old friends last night and drank... oh I'd say about 6 too many martinis. With your tendency to be hit hard by a hangover after a night of hard drinking, there was no chance you'd wake up before 3PM. In fact, it was a Christmas miracle you made it home at all.

So you start scrambling, trying to figure out what to do. Dora's all that Cindy wants for Christmas, and you couldn't even come through on that. You spend the next two days making calls to local stores that might have it, but the wells are dry. Everybody loves Dora. There was never a chance. Christmas day arrives, and Cindy Lou pulls the Dora-sized box (carefully calculated by you, the parent) out from the back of the tree in unmitigated excitement. She tears the wrapping off, opens the box, and sees it.

Are her eyes deceiving her, or is... is that a picture of a Dora the Explorer doll? Unfortunately, Cindy Lou has perfect vision and a sharp enough mind to use it. Yup. You figured the next best thing to giving her the real thing was to give her a picture of the real thing from Google images as a "promise" that the item was coming in the mail in the coming days.

The problem? This is the first Christmas Cindy Lou will remember, and you gave her a piece of paper... one you didn't even print out in a decent quality... you chose fast draft, because you didn't care. Sure, she'll get the doll a few days later and will play with it for years. But it's not the gift that's necessarily the most important thing to Cindy Lou. It's the entire experience of Christmas: the excitement of pulling out a tangible object from a box and being able to play with it incessantly for the remainder of Christmas Day, a historically unexciting afternoon if you don't have anything to play with.

Instead, she gets a poor quality photo of the doll she was dreaming about playing with the night before to put on the refrigerator so she can stare at it for the next four present-less days. The worst part? So often, parents lie about what happened. "Oh, Honey, the mailman was very sick and wasn't able to deliver it" or "Oh, sweetheart, Amazon must have lost it in the warehouse" (they didn't... we don't lose things at Amazon).

Bang up job, Mom. You didn't just ruined this Christmas for Cindy Lou. You tarnished the idea of Christmas morning for her, something she won't ever recover from. Parents: if you're going to give your kid an "it's coming soon" picture gift to your child (we don't recommend that... we think you should order things on time like the parents of happy children do), at least tell them the real reason they don't have a gift on Christmas morning.

To the parents of Connor, a bright young boy whose only wish was Rock Band: don't be afraid to mention your family's troubling legal situation to Connor. Honesty is a better gift than a present somtimes:

To the parents of Sophie, your little superstar who desperately wants a convertible for Barbie, who's never had a means of transportation around the living room before: don't be afraid to share the little illegality you've been promoting for the past year and a half that finally turned around to bite you:

Trust me, parents: as difficult as it is to share your troubles with your children, they'll learn a lot from it. And it'll give them something to think about during the 8 grueling hours of nothingness they'll deal with after Christmas lunch and until bed. Or, better yet, you can just avoid all of this and order your presents on time for once. Everyone wins!