the phrase ‘what else did you get for Christmas?’

Of American-English origin, the phrase what else did you get for Christmas? is a sarcastic remark used in exasperation at an impatient motorist, especially one who persistently toots his/her horn.

The ironic implication is that the motorist behaves like a child in a toy car.

The earliest occurrence that I have found is from the column The Editor’s Squeaky Chair, published in The Enid Events (Enid, Oklahoma) of Friday 21st July 1944:

One boy was pedaling another by a crossing. A truck, coming behind, wanted to turn right. He tooted impatiently at the cyclist who seemed to be doing the best he could. When the boy got across he turned and yelled:
“All right, pops, what else did you get for Christmas?
How do they think ’em up?

The second-earliest occurrence that I have found is from the column Looking at Hollywood, by Hedda Hopper, published in several U.S. newspapers on Saturday 1st May 1948—for example in the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California):

GOOD HUMOR
The other morning Sandra, daughter of George Burns and Gracie Allen1, was en route to school with about 30 other kids when an obnoxious driver in a big, new car persistently blared his horn at the bus. Finally both vehicles pulled up for a signal and Sandra leaned out the window and said in weighted sarcasm, “That’s a nice car you’re driving. What else did you get for Christmas?

1 George Burns (Nathan Birnbaum – 1896-1996) was a U.S. comedian, singer and author; Grace Allen (1895-1964) was a U.S. comedienne. They worked together as a comedy duo.

The phrase is occasionally used in Australian English. The following, for example, is from the Junior section of The Sun-Herald (Sydney, New South Wales) of Sunday 2nd February 1958:

During a traffic jam, a motorist began to blast his horn.
The driver of the car alongside leaned over and politely inquired: “What else did you get for Christmas?”—Elise Rawling (13), 36 Vision Street, Chadstone, Vic.

The phrase is occasionally used in British English, too. For example, the following is from the unsigned column Life to-day, published in the Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, Lancashire, England) of Monday 13th October 1969:

“The sound of his horn.”—John Peel.2
Time: Recently.
Place: Walton.
I sounded my horn to warn some boys as they slowly ambled across the road. As they did not seem to have heard, I gave a long insistent note to ensure they did.
One of them as we passed safely by, shouted: “What else did you get for Christmas?

2 “The sound of his horn.”—John Peel. is a humoristic reference to D’ye ken John Peel? (circa 1824), a Cumberland hunting song written by John Woodcock Graves (1795-1886) in celebration of his friend John Peel (1776-1854), an English huntsman from the Lake District, a region of lakes and mountains in Cumberland.

This is the beginning of the song—as published in The songs and ballads of Cumberland, to which are added dialect and other poems; with biographical sketches, notes, and glossary (London: George Routledge and Sons; Edinburgh: John Menzies; Carlisle: George Coward – 1866), edited by Sidney Gilpin—ken translates as know:

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gray?
D’ye ken John Peel at the break of the day?
D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far away,
With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

’Twas the sound of his horn call’d me from my bed,
And the cry of his hounds has me oft-times led;
For Peel’s view holloa would ’waken the dead,
Or a fox from his lair in the morning.

 

This is a photograph of Charles, Prince of Wales (born 1948), in a toy car at Balmoral Castle—from The Sphere (London, England) of Saturday 9th May 1953:

Prince Charles in a toy car at Balmoral - The Sphere (London) - 9 May 1953