We’ve all had rubbish presents, and most of us have given our fair share too. Gift buying is a tough old game. Grandad’s had every war film in the IMDB Top 250, misjudging what your niece is into has become a discomforting annual tradition, and mum’s collected enough bath salts to singlehandedly spark a zombie apocalypse. It’s time to think outside the box. Your loved ones deserve something special, something that won’t just sit in the spare room collecting dust. Something registered in the Intergalactic Star Database.
What could be more thoughtful than giving something that will outlast the recipient's life by hundreds of millions of years? While next-door’s kids flounder through the kitchen drawers on christmas morning like a couple of burglars after Mum and Dad forgot to buy batteries for the toys (again), you’ve given something that will outlast any iPad, toaster, beer hat, signed pictures of Elvis, even a jar of fresh Icelandic mountain air.
You might be thinking it must be too expensive, a logistical ballache, or frankly impossible to do something as extraordinary as buying a star. You’re wrong: just head to Amazon where you can name a star for a tenner (there are even some used ones). In the tin comes a ‘Star Locator’ leaflet and a ‘Phillips Star Chart’ - both wonderful extras, but nobody will care when they stare at the night sky and think “one of those distant silver specks is mine”.
Perhaps you’ll even be lucky enough to receive a star yourself. When you compare presents in the pub on christmas evening, you can say you got something even Santa couldn’t carry. You got something that is 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000kg and 2,500,000 times larger than the earth. You got a star. And if your serial-Googler mate has the gall to check the Amazon smallprint and tells you it isn’t really yours, you just remember these words: Registered in the Intergalactic. Star. Database.
And when Dave tells everyone he adopted an endangered elephant for his little brother, ask him if that elephant can outlive your star. When Ben’s pomposity rears its ugly yuletide head with boasts that he didn’t buy presents this year, he got charity donations in his family’s names, ask him if his family can see the faces of those African children when they look up at the night sky.
No, when they gaze up at that big, infinite canvas, they’ll see but a few things. Your mother’s, father’s, brother’s, sister’s, that girl at the office you fancy’s stars, each of them shining down to the tune of £10 well spent. Aeons after your mum’s zombie apocalypse has eliminated humanity, alien races will glide through the Milky Way and say “there it is! The famous Sue. The Pete, the Paul, the Nath!”
It is the gift that keeps on giving. A gigantic ball of fire that can’t be differentiated from billions of others of its kind, one that is impossible to get close to and would disintegrate you if you did. A gift whose only conceivable value resides on a mickey-mouse database made up by a rich, exploitative genius. A gift so uselessly conceptual it almost makes one more 3 pack of plain black socks to beef up the top drawer seem a decent choice. Don’t waste your money this christmas. Buy everyone a star.