Some slippers would be nice

Some slippers would be nice

The greatest blessing of every Christmas is not having to buy gifts for any picky person like me. I don’t think there’s anyone like me on my list, thank goodness.

In a scattered, barely focused brain such as mine, the world is a deluge of possibilities and things spotted and coveted. This becomes especially evident now, when you want to find gifts for people they will hopefully appreciate.

If I could buy gifts for myself with a fat budget, I’d find all sorts of interesting things, which only I know I want. When asked, “What would you like for Christmas?” how do you answer with, “Gee, I’d love to have a black Stork Club ash tray from the 1940s like the one in all the celebrity photos?” You can’t say that because they are expecting you to say “some slippers would be nice.”

The martini glasses in the “Thin Man” movies are unlike those seen today, and they’re quite swanky. A company reproduces them, and a set of six would be a cool thing to have for all the imaginary times I’m mixing a pitcher of imaginary martinis for imaginary guests.

Ina Garten entertains with really nice serving pieces: silver bowls, old sterling and crystal wine glasses. If you happen to have a solid $25,000 to spend on such things and love me that much, I’ll give you an itemized list.

A set of plain white dinner plates would be really amazing, but please don’t get me the ordinary, heavy things I would have to exchange for something else. They have to be oversized, bright-white porcelain so thin you can make out newspaper headlines through them. They should ring when you flick the edge. I don’t want to burden you with the search. Some slippers would be nice.

You know those fancy carving sets you see at antique shops? The stag handled fork and knife in a fitted velvet-lined case? I doubt anyone ever used such a thing, and they likely went straight into a trunk after the wedding gifts were all opened. I’ve always passed them by, but you need something to carve the imaginary joint of mutton all those imaginary fancy pants guests are waiting to eat.

The classic line is “I’m not hard to buy for. Have you never heard of a liquor store?” You might think the gift of hooch would be just the thing for an old school writer, but I can barely tell the good stuff from the fire accelerant. I appreciate a good glass of lovely scotch, I truly do, but I’m just as happy with something cheap. Here is an instance where extravagance is lost on the gift recipient. If given an individually casked bottle of Armagnac, I’d be stumped. “Wow,” I’d say, “I coulda got a dozen bottles of Aged Adequately for what this stuff cost.”

My cookbook wish list is short and populated with volumes long out of print or so specific they are multi-volume sets costing a fortune. You aren’t likely to find them, and if you do, you’ll probably form an unkind opinion of my tastes in cookbooks. Honestly, any cookbook with pretty pictures makes me happy because in those pictures I’ll see plates, cookware and knives to start searching for.

I am anti-gadget in the kitchen, so even though the shredders and volume slicers I’ve seen look pretty cool, they’d never get used and would probably be regifted faster than a stinky candle.

If you find yourself with a rather intimidating person on your gift list, perhaps the best thing is to try and pry an honest answer out of them when asked what they’d like to have. Either that, or go completely in another direction where the stakes are lower. Are they a fanatic about cooking and kitchen stuff and aren’t saying what they want? Get them a nice watch or maybe an old prayer rug with a good backstory. You’re pretty safe in thinking they won’t have 20 small, old Middle Eastern rugs in the closet somewhere.