This year marks the first one in which the purchase of a Christmas present of some sort is the focus of a particular arc; this is probably because this was the first year that the children were old enough to think about buying Elly or John something instead of simply getting a card or some such thing. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to list the arcs on a year-by-year basis:
- 1982: The current example is based on a true story wherein Aaron boosted a toy from the Hudson’s Bay store just because; as we know, Lynn transformed it to a mildly charming little tale about a little boy who was dared to do something he didn’t want to do, felt bad about it and was rewarded for doing the Right Thing In The End no matter what the jackass who got a cheap thrill out of making his patsy do stupid stuff did.
- 1983: This time around, we not only have to contend with Lizzie’s not knowing what secrets are, we also have Mike accidentally breaking something and John getting a bug up his arse about it. We even have a sappily-happy ending with John cracking open his wallet and getting a new ornament like a regular guy.
- 1986: After a fallow period, Lynn decided to take on the toy companies and their need to promote a particular line at the expense of poor, put-upon mothers with nooooo help and nooooo tiiiiiiiiime to themselves by having Lizzie need something called a Space Babe; she did so by having Elly half-way kill herself getting a toy John dismissed as looking vaguely equine. This not only stuck it to The Man, it allowed her to not only mock Cabbage Patch Kids or Barbie but also My Little Pony.
- 1987: It’s something of a stretch to call it a Christmas present arc but this year does have something that fits; that’s because John blows a load of cash on a present for himself: a sports car.
- 1988: This year, Elly gave Michael the gift of overcrowding, being cut off from his friends and that girl who scared her, lectures about the simple life and enforced incarceration with an insolent, her-smug-face-would-be-a-magnet-for-fist
s-if-it-were-male cousin Laura because she and John stupidly decided that It Would Be Good for him to Learn His Place by going to a damned farm and using an outhouse because his idiot hippie uncle forgot to plug in the heat tape, man.
- 1989: This year’s micro-arc had Liz act as John’s personal shopper because of his uncharming habit of buying the practical gifts he’s too stupid to realize that Elly doesn’t actually like no matter how much she says she does.
That last marked the last year in which a search for a gift dominated the December strips; that’s because from 1990 onwards, the need to focus on the Grade Z soap opera Elly made of Mike and Liz’s love lives dominated the lead-up to Christmas. You’d think that April’s presence would make her focus on presents but, as we all know, you’d be wrong.