Rheta Johnson: Bum legs and frivolous catalogs

December 8, 2012 8:24:38 PM

Rheta Grimsley Johnson -


Something about the snakeskin flashlight for $25 sent me screaming to the Land of Bah Humbug. It was on one of those magazine lists of gifts for under $25 -- technically the snazzy flashlight was not "under" but "right at" -- which sucker me in to disappoint. 


In fairness, I'll admit that already I was having a worrisome holiday season, trying to keep my little dog Boozoo from moving so that his pulled leg ligament would not become a torn one.  


If you've ever tried to keep a hyper dog still 24-7 you can feel my pain. Boo gets led outside on his leash every hour or so, but otherwise must lounge on a new dog mat that keeps his bum leg unencumbered. 


This routine works fine until another dog barks, or Boo spots a squirrel out the window, or it is mealtime and I can't get the can open fast enough. Then he begins a kind of uncontrollable tap dance that strains the fragile leg and puts us back at Square One. 


Did I mention that I fell off a porch and hurt my foot? I'm supposed to be staying off of it, but who can get ready for Christmas and monitor a dog's every move and movement from a sofa? 


Along with babysitting Boo, I've been trying to watch my spending in case the ligament doesn't heal and requires surgery. Putting a fish line in a dog's leg is an expensive proposition. Ask me how I know. 


Lists of cheap gifts are no help. Nobody needs or wants the things on the budget lists. 


Call me silly, but a luggage tag with a picture of a red boot is not high on my list of priorities. And I can live the rest of my life happy without a $15 candy bracelet. A pink plaid Swiss Army Knife wouldn't be so bad if you already had everything else in the world. Wine aerators? Hair of the dog flasks? 


The flashlight was over the top, if "under" $25. When I grab for a flashlight in the dark, the last thing in the world I want to come up with is snakeskin.  


If Christmas catalogs are any indication, we have, as a society, run out of things to buy. One popular book listed gifts for under $250, and they weren't much more desirable than snakeskin flashlights. I expect more than a shower curtain or a soup tureen if I spend $250. I'd want a great big box -- or a very tiny one -- for that much money. 


Then there are lists that don't even pretend to be for the frugal. One, for the person who already has everything, featured a bamboo bicycle. It cost $1,450, but, hey, your dilemma about what to get the person with everything was over.  


I'm not a practical person at heart, more of a real hyacinths-for-the-soul kinda gal. I like whimsy and romance as much as the next fool. But there's an unwritten rule that goes along with useless gifts. They must be beautiful. 


Bamboo bicycle? I don't think so. 


Boo and I limp out to the road, looking for the next glossy magazine to arrive in the mail and occupy our thoughts. We will slowly make our way back to our respective nests and contemplate just who on our list might want a kit for needlepointing an iPhone case. Or a marshmallow roaster for the campfire when a twig or coat hanger won't do. 


Bah, humbug.