Become rich enough for gas and milk

I like this time of year, because it ensures that for the next 12 months or so, our national economy will somehow stay out of the red, and that we can continue to thrive as a successful and powerful nation.

And by thrive, I mean be able to afford gasoline and milk.

This is because it?s Christmastime, which means that millions of people for almost a month now have been going out and frivolously buying completely useless items to give as gifts for the holidays.

It?s a tradition. We don?t necessarily want to get people something they?ll appreciate. We just want to be able to say, ?Look, I got you a gift!?

Thankfully, I have thought up the perfect plan to cash in on this. I bet you?re going to be jealous.

My plan is based on the fact that people are willing to buy completely pointless gifts for their friends, as long as the item looks nice.

Take fruitcake, for example.

I haven?t had a lot of experience involving fruitcake in my life, but I do know two main things: (1) it is an extremely dense, yet almost edible, object that contains dried fruits and nuts, and (2) it can be bought at most of your finer discount retailers in decorative tins around this time of year.

I know of maybe one person who actually eats fruitcake voluntarily. His name is Dave, and he shared a little bit with me several years ago. He is the former director of the high school choir, and I believe the year he gave me some fruitcake was also the year we sang a song at the Christmas concert dedicated exclusively to the act of baking fruitcake.

But this is beside the point.

What I?m saying is that most people do not like fruitcake, yet it?s a holiday gift-giving tradition.

My personal feeling on the matter is that if you really want to give an edible seasonal gift of great density, you should just buy summer sausage.

However, I would advise you to be careful when selecting which brand. I am a big fan of summer sausage, but I still don?t necessarily trust what?s in it. So I really feel unsafe about the off-brand kind.

Another completely useless item that tends to be exchanged among friends this time of year are those large, decorative cans containing differently flavored popcorn.

Over the years, my family has acquired many of these, and all I can say is that, yes, they do look very festive. The popcorn, however, leaves a lot to be desired.

I think what the Decorative Popcorn companies do is pop all of their corn in mid-June, and then spend July through October smearing the product in a cheesy powder or a sort of caramel coating that eventually congeals so that when you try to pull out just one piece, the entire section of popcorn comes out and one massive chunk.

I don?t know of a single person who has ever reported finishing an entire can?even in a group effort?without acquiring a major intestinal affliction.

The only reason people keep buying the giant popcorn tins for other people is because they look all Christmassy (?Look, I got you a gift!?). The tins are often covered in snowmen or Santa Claus, or snowy scenes involving cardinals.

This is where my great money-making scheme comes into play.

Despite the fact that everyone in the United States has received several of these gifts in his or her lifetime?my family used to have at least three of the cans in one room alone?people still continue to buy thousands of them and give them as gifts each holiday season.

I also happen to know that after any sporting event, there is always popcorn left on the floor of the stadium stands. By my estimates, there are probably several hundred pounds of popcorn dropped each year.

So this is my plan.

I?m going to hire custodial staffs to collect the popcorn off of the ground and send it to me. I am also going to pay people from all over the nation to send me their leftover holiday-themed tins. Then, I?ll coat the popcorn in whatever tasty flavors such as Leftover Cheetos Powder in the Bag and Melted Caramel Candies from the Backseat, and repackage it into the salvaged, festively-decorated tins.

I figure the popcorn always tastes stale anyway, plus nobody ever really eats it, so this shouldn?t be a big deal.

Then I?ll sell them to your finer discount retailers across the nation, and rake in a fairly decent profit. I bet you wish you had thought of this first. But I?m just doing my part to keep our economy healthy.

Oh, and merry Christmas.

* * *

UFO: A traditional Christmas dinner in early England was the head of a pig prepared with mustard.

Don?t ask why.

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