By the time most of you read this, you'll be able to answer the question:
Unlike many, I don't mind the commercialism of the holidays. The season gets people interacting, even if only online, and keeps the economy running. Okay...dribbling.
The one thing that actually does bug me about the holidays is that it heats up the hyperbole, giving merchants the license to tout their scarves, blenders, water purifiers, coffee table books, thermal socks, gift cards (from entities as enormous as Esso to as miniscule as L'Oeufrier, my corner breakfast place) and whatever else can be reasonably be exchanged for cash or credit as "The Perfect Gift."
This year, someone thought that my "Perfect Gift" would be another protective case for my iPhone. The person who bought it for me was quite astute, noticing that the protection on mine had broken at its weakest point, namely the thin bar under the phone's main button and above its plug input (anybody who ever owned an iPhone case knows of what I talk), and was kind enough to offer up a replacement.
But what bugs me about this "Perfect Gift" is the need for it in the first place. This is my THIRD case this year, and I'm not someone who treats his smartphone with reckless abandon. At about $40 per case, that's $120 bucks a year--$10 a month--just to protect the damn thing. I'm sure I could get a better deal from insurance giant Chubb...or from our society's other great provider of protection, the Mafia.
So at first glance, this calls for a better case, right?
Frankly, this calls for a better iPhone.
I read of its tumultuous design origins in the Steve Jobs biography this summer, and while the iPhone's glass-meets-metal flushness is aesthetically pleasing, it's ultimately impractical.
And as much as I love my iPhone for what it does, the truth is that it is not just a flawed product, but an INCOMPLETE product. The fact that for common day-to-day use, I have to augment it with a ridiculously-priced, plastic-and-rubber shell lest it end up looking like the photo atop this post (an actual iPhone of a younger colleague), is an outrage. If Apple is indeed looking for it’s next mega-product category, it can start with a shatter-proof iPhone.
The iPhone is not alone. There are so many products and services where the harsh reality of the end result is overshadowed by the excitement of the purchase...like a home, a puppy, or tickets to a New Year's Eve party. We buy the instant "wow" with glee, and end up dealing with the less sexy, follow-on consequences somewhat less enthusiastically, even begrudgingly.
For a gift, or for any product or service to even approach the warm, Holy Grail glow of perfection, it has to balance out the excitement/reality relationship, and extend its timeline. Granted, you need the sizzle to sell the steak, but it had better taste good going down...and not come back up on you later.
So this week's lesson is combines the elements of promise, delivery, completeness and reliability, and wraps it in a neat little package, tied with a bright red bow, and topped with a silver bell.
It may be a big, fat cliché, but what I've learned is the following:
The Perfect Gift is indeed
the one that keeps on giving...
and stops taking.