Each December I write a tongue-in-cheek column about Christmas gifts I think fit the times but that you won’t find in any stores or even online. For example, one of my gifts last year was a game called Collusion Conclusion. It was similar to the traditional murder mystery game Clue, in which players move their tokens to different rooms in a mansion where they ask questions of the other players in an effort to solve the crime through a process of elimination. The winner is the first one who correctly identifies the culprit, their weapon and the location of the murder.
In Collusion Conclusion, players moved their token, called a “Rudy,” to locations around the globe in search of Hillary Clinton’s email server. If a player guessed wrong, the other players would stand up and shout “that’s fake news!” as they produced evidence proving the accuser wrong.
This year’s version is similar, except it is called Election Inspection and the players move their Rudy around to different states in search of who stole Donald Trump’s votes.
With the current surge in coronavirus cases, some children may be concerned that Santa may be deemed a “super-spreader” and not be allowed to make his traditional Christmas Eve flight, distributing toys to all the good boys and girls in the world. Not to worry. The Centers for Disease Control announced that Santa will be allowed to fly as long as he and his reindeer all wear masks. The problem with this is that Santa relies on Rudolph, with his bright, shiny red nose, to guide his sleigh through the night sky. So, if jolly ol’ St. Nick is a bit late with some deliveries, or if he leaves gifts at the wrong house, blame it on the masks.
Do you know someone suffering from “the Corona-20” — you know, those extra pounds some of us have gained during the quarantine while we’re lying in bed eating munchies while binge-watching Netflix? If so, you might consider giving them some home exercise equipment. Just be tactful how you go about it, as many of us are stressed-out and prone to emotional outbursts. “Honey, I thought you might want to get your youthful figure back” is likely to be received with tears rather than squeals of joy.
Bluetooth add-on devices for your computer, such as Alexa and Siri, make great gifts. They let you wirelessly communicate with your computer so you can search the internet or play your favorite music in any room in your house.
And they cost under $100. One word of caution: these devises are always listening. Followers of QAnon believe a deep-state cabal of pedophiles controls our government, and its members are listening to everything we say through our computers. They may graciously thank you for the gift, but after you leave, they will probably take the device to their backyard and shoot it.
With many schools closed or engaged in distance-learning due to the pandemic, two things should be near the top of every parent’s gift list this Christmas: something to keep the kids busy and out of trouble, and something educational to help them keep pace with their learning. If you are looking for a gift for a young girl, I suggest you stay away from Easy-Bake ovens or anything having to do with the kitchen, as this might be interpreted as suggesting a woman’s place is in the home. You should also scratch the Barbie & Ken doll house off your list. Instead, go for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) toys; they can give your little cutie a head start in developing a solid, high-paying career.
The Biden administration will be emphasizing renewable energy, so you might consider buying your daughter a backyard electric windmill kit. (They cost about $200.) Get her a set of tools, some steel-toed boots and have her wire the windmill up to a bank of car batteries. When the next hurricane comes through, you could be powering the whole neighborhood. If she doesn’t think that sounds like fun, explain to her that we all must do our part to save the planet.
Little boys are a different matter. They think trucks and heavy equipment are just big toys and they come pre-programed with an array of engine noises already planted in their brain. The problem with boys is getting them to read directions before they put things together. Following directions is very important for solving engineering problems. Math and the laws of physics are also important. Get the boys a science kit. Just make sure they don’t blow things up.
“I survived” memorabilia should be popular this year. You can have the words imprinted on sweatshirts, t-shirts, coffee mugs, wine glasses … just about anything. My top choice is “I survived the 2020 hurricane season,” since we were in the path of six named storms this year. Then there is the “I survived the 2020 global pandemic” or the anti-masker version: “I ignored the 2020 China virus hoax … and I’m still alive.” Finally, “I voted by mail in the 2020 election … six times” is also popular with some.
While everyone is in the family spirit it might seem like a good time to start a family tree by ordering a DNA kit from Ancestry.com or 23&me. Just one BIG word of caution: do not do this as a surprise. Talk it over with your spouse and other close relatives, because sometimes these test reveal family secrets not everyone wants revealed.
With the COVID pandemic peaking, many families will opt for a Zoom Christmas morning. With Zoom, the entire extended family, even those who might be overseas, can watch the kids open their gifts under the tree. If you do not have the Zoom app on your computer, FaceTime on your cell phone will allow you to do much the same thing.
But Zoom does not work as well when it comes to the traditional Christmas dinner with the smell of turkey and all the trimmings. So, if you miss the joy and camaraderie of the family getting together to sing carols and drink eggnog, and are planning a family gathering in spite of the pandemic, here are a few suggestions to keep it safe and sane.
1) Provide a separate area for the old folks (60+) who may become seriously ill if they contract the virus.
2) Do not set out trays of finger foods or munchies that require dipping.
3) Urge your guests not to drink and talk politics.
4) Remember that just about everything today is political.
5) Ask your guests who are drinking not to pass the bottle around.
6) Provide an area away from your house where people can go to settle their political differences.
But the best thing about Christmas 2020 is that 2021 will be just a week away. I have to believe that next year will be better than this year. That song from Annie, the musical about an orphan girl growing up in the Great Depression, keeps running through my head.
The sun’ll come out tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on ‘til tomorrow, come what may.
Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow!
You’re always a day away!