Ho, ho, ho! 'Tis the season to mutter curses, imprecations, and invective at the fiends who design the product packaging that only a sadist could love.

If you've not had the experience of trying to extricate a Barbie doll from its package, you have missed what is perhaps the ne plus ultra in deliberate, calculated packaging obstacles.

With a gaggle of granddaughters, it is a process with which I have a fair amount of familiarity.

Barbie, in whichever of her seemingly thousand iterations — Surfer Girl, Doctor, Ballerina, Fashion Model, Beautiful Bride, Valley Girl, Renaissance Girl, Rapunzel, American Idol, and on, and on (as long as she's been around, there should be a Grandmother Barbie and Nursing Home Patient Barbie) — comes in a carton wherein she is attached to a cardboard insert, to which she is further enclasped with anywhere from two to four twisted wires.

But wait, there's more: Barbie's hair, of which there generally is an abundance, usually blonde, is separately bound with plastic strips which are themselves stitched to the aforementioned cardboard insert, and the ends of the plastic strips and the twisted wires are sealed with blobs of glue.

As if that isn't enough, the entire back of the cardboard insert is hot-glued to the carton itself. It is enough to make one wish for an early, stiff belt of eggnog (or an Iraqi Improvised Explosive Device).

Yeah, I know all this is supposedly for theft prevention purposes, but one wonders just how many more Barbies would be shoplifted if she were only hot-glued and wired as opposed to hot-glued, wired, and bound/stitched?

We won't even broach the subject of Barbie's 10,001 accessories, many of which bear the dreaded “Some Assembly Required” label.

I still recall the trauma of a long-ago Christmas eve, trying to assemble my daughter's much-wished-for Barbie Dream House ere the Christmas morning sun rose. It would not have been substantially more difficult to have built my own house from the ground up.

And music CDs: What crackhead dreamed up the “security” measures on those things?

First, they're so tightly shrink-wrapped with plastic that a Swiss Army knife is needed to pierce the stuff and remove it.

After that, most of 'em have silvery round holographic stickers taped across the edges of the “jewel box” CD holder.

Not that it matters — you couldn't open it anyway because of the tape all around the edges that, if you try to peel it off, comes apart and refuses to peel, so you've got to try and slice it by running a knife blade through the tiny space between the two plastic covers.

Grrr!

Then there are the companies that, if you order a pencil, they pack it in a 1-foot × 3-foot carton and fill the empty space with those horrid Styrofoam “peanuts” that scatter everywhere when you open the box.

Lord knows how many gallons of gasoline/diesel/jet fuel are wasted transporting millions of boxes that are mostly empty space and “peanuts,” which end up clogging landfills.