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Ann Cannon: Looking for the perfect presents?

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It's that special time of year when eager entrepreneurs everywhere start e-mailing product information to respected newspaper columnists (like myself) in hopes that we will give them a free and also shameless holiday plug.

For example, I've recently been asked to promote something called Colorfusion Candles, which "with the press of a button, create a color-changing, sound and aromatherapeutic experience that everyone can enjoy."

Yes! I can see it now! Me pressing a button while calling my kids by name (on Philip! On Alec!), not unlike Santa calling his reindeer (On Donder! On Blitzen!).

ME (whistling and shouting): Kids! The Colorfusion Candle is about to change colors! And make sounds! And smell terrific! Get your rears down here right now for a holiday experience that everyone can enjoy!

I have to say the description of this product left me with several unanswerable Zen-type questions, such as the following: "What sound does a candle make?" and "If a candle makes a sound in the forest when no one is listening, does that candle, in fact, make a sound?"

The product that sounds the most interesting to me, however, is "The Box Girls Box of Questions"— a set of pre-packaged "thought-provoking" questions that will help families say "bye bye to unbearable and 'uh-oh' moments," as well as "spark up great conversation." Best of all, they'll encourage young family members to "chat and chew."

At first I dismissed this activity as just something you could never get an actual American family to buy into. Please. Would anyone REALLY be willing to pass around the "Box Girls Box of Questions" along with the "mashed potatoes" and also the "cole slaw" at dinnertime?

I could easily imagine my husband turning mulish if prevailed upon — the way I always do when I'm forced to play too many non-reindeer games at wedding showers. And I could easily see my sons turning the activity into something resembling "Fifty-Two Card Pickup."

BUT! The more I think about it, the better the idea of getting family members to answer a series of pre-packaged questions seems. In fact, I believe it's nothing short of brilliant! The only thing more brilliant would be if family members themselves pre-packaged some questions of their own!

For example, these are the questions I could ask:

1. Have you done your homework yet?

2. Have you picked up your bedroom yet?

This is the question my husband could ask:

1. Who left the bathroom light on?

These are the questions our sons could ask:

1. Dude! Have you seen my backpack?

2. Dude! Have you seen my shoes?

This is the follow-up question my husband could ask:

1. Are you sure you're not the one who left the bathroom light on?

These are the questions the dog could ask:

1. Can I please lick your feet?

2. Can I, huh?

3. Can I?

This is the question the cat could ask:

1. Who are these people?

(Oh. Wait a minute. I get it. Families already HAVE pre-packaged questions. So maybe we all ought to take time this holiday season to come up with some new ones ... )

E-mail: acannon@desnews.com