(Inner) Peace on Earth

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Madness at the Mall

When did the job of buying every single holiday present become a mother's duty? Some anthropologists trace the custom back to the Neanderthals, though skeptics point out that they were notoriously cheap, often getting by with regifted mammoth bones. All we know for certain is that sometime during the intervening millennia men began claiming they were color-blind and couldn't pick out sweaters. Or even Favorite Teacher mugs ("they all look alike").

That leaves the modern woman with dozens of people to shop for. Everyone needs a gift, and at some point your children migrated from sending a letter to the North Pole to creating spreadsheets for Santa. Can we all agree that gift-giving is out of control?

Luckily, the advent of online shopping has eased your burden, as have all-night pharmacies. (What guy on your list won't appreciate a beautifully wrapped Mangroomer Essential Nose and Ear Hair Trimmer?) And you made a dent in your list on Black Friday by spending four hours at the mall. You'd have stayed longer had the National Guard not been called in to break up a fracas in the toy department, where 279 mothers were fighting over 278 Dirty-Nuke Suitcase Action Paks.

As you unload your booty, you congratulate yourself on not having gotten arrested. Besides, as a savvy online shopper you're confident you can pick up the dirty-nuke suitcase for a song on eBay. Just as you wheel in your last pallet of packages, your neighbor comes by with a plate of holiday cookies. You recognize this for the ruse it is seconds before she smugly drops her bombshell: "I'm pretty sure I got the last Dirty-Nuke Suitcase Action Pak in the tristate area. Now I'm thinking of selling it on eBay for $1,000."

The Antidote: Offer her $500.

Continued on page 3:  The In-Laws


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