My father is notoriously difficult to gift. I mean, really.. what do you get for a sixty-five year-old guy who’s owned everything he could possibly need — and then some — for years already? Even when I was a kid he was difficult to shop for, but lately holidays and birthday gift-giving has taken on an almost comical nature. (“Here’s that concealable beer bladder you always wanted, Dad!”) Ah yes, capitalism at it’s finest.
This year, in addition to some ridiculous gifts (the new and improved Clapper Plus came out this year, you see…) I decided to see if I could solve a house-hold problem or two.
In particular, the catalog situation was getting out of control. Some months back I questioned if there wasn’t something we could do about the giant pile of glossy pulp my father had forever mulching under the family’s kitchen counter. We rifled through the pile for ten minutes or so. There were dozens of catalogs; many had been coming for years. Our initial impression was that there was probably no way to stop the ongoing marketing deluge. We sighed and left the glossed pulp to mulch away. But not before my conscience had been sufficiently twinged.
In early December I decided to look around at stopping some of the nonsense. After all, a sixty-five year-old guy probably doesn’t need to be getting catalogs featuring knitting supplies and the world’s cutest kitchen gadgets. (Unless, you know, I’ve been completely misreading Dear-Old-Dad all these years.) If I could at least stop the completely useless catalogs, I reasoned, then maybe my conscience could ignore the larger problem for another year or so.
Trying to figure out how to stop catalogs on a publication-by-publication basis immediately proved to be a nightmare. Catalogs don’t seem to be subject to the same kind of clear “unsubscribe” legislation the way that email marketing services are.
At some point, however, I stumbled upon Catalog Choice, a free service put together in collaboration with The National Wildlife Federation and others. It’s awesome. I was able to use the Catalog Choice centralized unsubscribe service to suspend over over sixty catalogs that had been coming to the old homestead for years. While most of the catalogs warn that it can take over three months for cancellation to fully complete, my father is happy to report an already lighter daily mail load.
And this year, for the first time in quite awhile, I got a truly heartfelt Christmas “thank you”. Which didn’t cost a penny.
Now I wonder if Dad will let me borrow his Clapper.