2009 Holiday Survival Guide for Slackers

It’s that time of year again—actually, it’s way past that time of year. And again, you still haven’t done your holiday shopping.

On November 1st of this year I arrived at work to find a Christmas tree in the lobby of my building. NOVEMBER FIRST, PEOPLES! That’s just…come on. Can I at least stagger around in a post-Halloween sugar high for a day—24-freakin’ hours?!—before I have to start agonizing over the halls (and shoppers) in dire need of decking?

Apparently not. The scope of the season has crept outward annually, and I expect this to only accelerate going forward. Soon December 26th will be the only day free from its taint, like that brief post-coital moment when a man is able to think about something other than sex (“You know, I think I forgot to pay taxes this year…”).

For slackers like me, the biggest problem with holidaflation is how difficult remembering to buy presents becomes. Back when our nation still used the Advent Calendar, with the official shopping season starting on December 1st, you had a neat, bounded timeframe in which to work. But kicking off the yuletide three months early makes it waaaaay too easy to procrastinate, such that you inevitably find yourself sitting in front of your computer monitor on December 23rd, reading an allegedly humorous gift guide, and realizing that the only Christmas-related transaction you’ve been involved in recently was buying those two “$anta $cratch” lottery tickets at the 7-Eleven to make up the difference between the $1.55 price tag on a pepperoni stick and the $3 minimum required for debit card purchases.

Well, here we are again, hauling your chestnuts out of the holiday fire with another compilation of well-after-the-last-minute gift suggestions. As always, everything on this list is available for purchase via the wonders of the NetarWeb, and will arrive on your doorstep in time for Christmas. Hahaha, that last bit is probably a lie. In fact, your items might not even arrive by the start of Christmas 2010, tentatively scheduled to begin next Thursday at noon.


There was a time when “Yankee ingenuity” meant inventing an airplane or splitting the atom, but that was before the eighth season of Laverne & Shirley reduced our national IQ to just a smidge over π. The best we can do these days is to foist the world’s stupidest product on our former BFFs. Thus: Snuggie for Dogs!!! Yes, following on the heels of Binder Clip: For Cats!! and The Wire Season 3 DVD Box Set: For Ferrets!!, the makers of the all-fleece SfD!! would have you believe that shaving the hair off one animal and putting it on another isn’t just a hobby for the criminally insane. Still, if you know someone who (1) was dumb enough to have bought a Snuggie for themselves; and (2) refers to their mutt by some ridiculous portmanteau like “labradoodle” or “bullshihtz,” you probably can’t go wrong with this swatch of fastenable idiocy.


It’s been nearly a decade since the iRobot Corporation revolutionized the piss-poor housekeeping/animal abuse industry with Roomba, a disc-shaped appliance that frees homeowners from the need to manually get trapped between a wastepaper basket and a copy of the New Yorker. Now Friendly Robots ups the ante with the RoboMow, which takes all the comfort and convenience of the automatic vacuum and adds a whirling maelstrom of razor-sharp blades. Watch your father’s eyes light up as he opens this gift and visualizes the neighborhood ruffians disappearing beneath its inexorable swath of doom. Patented technology converts mown grass and hooligans into mulch, fertilizing the lawn with the clippings and blood of the innocent. All Pa will have to do is stand bathrobe-clad on his doorstop, drowning out the pleas for mercy with cackling and shouts of “That’s why they call it shortcutting, sonny!”


It’s the season of giving, sure, but it’s important to pamper yourself as well. This year, why not treat yourself to Rednex, the “Swedish manufactured techno/folk/bluegrass group” that turned “Cotton Eye Joe” (aka “the point at which you leave the wedding reception”) into a grade-a weaponized earworm. Yes, for only $2,900,000 you get the band itself, plus “the Trademark - the Music - the Tour - the Record Deals…” and everything up to and including their one groupie, Thorbjörg. The website also says you will “get your name in all future encyclopedias as the first person ever to buy a no. 1 pop band,” which strikes me as a dubious claim, but how can you not trust an organization with a misspelled racial slur as a name? Anyway, just think of what you can do once the band is in your possession. I would recommend burying them-along with all extant copies of “Cotton Eye Joe”-in the same landfill as them Atari 2600 E.T. cartridges.


True story: When I was a kid, like maybe five or six, my younger sister and I got into an argument, during which we strived to establish, once and for all, who among us was the larger dum-dum. “You’re a dum-dum!” I distinctly remember saying, a volley that was met with a rousing “No, you’re a dum-dum!!” as rebuttal. This debate raged on for—oh Christ, probably like an hour, given that this was the early ’70s and our only other entertainment option was an Etch-a-Sketch with a busted vertical knob. When my father eventually entered the room and overheard our quarrel, he intervened with “Do either of you even know what ‘dum-dum’ means?” We gravely shook our heads, and he explained that the word was defined as “beautiful butterfly,” thereby teaching us two valuable lessons: (1) the futility of strife; and (2) the utility of flat-out deception. So this year, why not get your loved one 30 pounds of Dum Dum Pops? It’s a great way to say “You are my beautiful butterfly,” as well as “I clearly have no idea w/r/t your needs and desires, and have once again just bought you something at random.”


Here’s how it works. Step 1: You entrust a number of documents to the fine folks at You’ve Been Left Behind. Step 2: When the Rapture comes and the staff at Y.B.L.B. is whisked away to the Barbie Unicorn Princess Playset in the sky, some automated process sends the documents to those unworthy of joining you in your Eternal Reward. (I don’t understand exactly how this works, but I like to envision some sorry SOB in an underground DHARMA Initiative bunker, pressing a button every 108 minutes to ensure that your jpg of Nelson Muntz saying “HA HA!” doesn’t get sent to randy Uncle Joe prematurely.) You know, given the people I associate with, I might use this service to send myself a postcard when the Rapture comes, just so I know it’s happened. “Great news,” it will read. “That lady on the bus isn’t going to bother you any more.”


Once upon a time, when you had spirited discussions with your invisible friend while walking down the street, passersby would become concerned and authorities would be summoned. Now, of course, you can simply pop in a Bluetooth earpiece and, even without turning it on, babble to yourself all day long without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately, your pal Aaron “The Adjuster” enjoys no such camouflage, and his propensity to refine the feng shui of his privates during staff meetings has gotten him into trouble on more than one occasion. Enter: the Keyboard Jeans, prefect for the semipro ballplayer on your list. “Just installing Ubuntu on my pants,” Aaron will tell curious coworkers, as he gets everything in order down under, silently thanking you for your thoughtful and career-salvaging gift.


As the paramount scholar of our time recently observed, “Earth saw clmate chnge4 ions;will cont 2 c chnges.R duty2responsbly devlop resorces4humankind/not pollute&destroy;but cant alter naturl chng” (that’s verbatim, God love ’er). How Sarah Palin packs so much thinkin’ into 140 characters is beyond me, but clearly we must harness her power for the good of mankind. And as most philosophers do their best cogitation while isolated, I suggest that we all chip in, buy her a 1.88-acre island off the coast of Alaska, and have her confined to her new home by law, armed only with a lifetime supply of moose jerky and a pair of red pumps. She’ll still need access to her Twitter account, of course, to ensure that her further proclamations on global warming receive the audience they deserve. 2010: “thx4 the iland guyz ur the best”; 2015: “izzit my magination or is this place gettin smallr?”; 2020: “halp I could use a ‘bailout’ lol.”


Man, your buddy Tiger is having a rough month, what with the revelations about that girl and that other girl and that other one and the girl, not to mention the transgressions. It’s the sort of jam you never want to see him in again. So this year, pick him up the UroClub, the “discrete, sanitary way for your urgent relief.” Created by a Board-Certified Urologist, the hollow club is designed for 14th-hole pit stops, but presumably could be adapted to any activity that would benefit from a secret and non-biological place to park a peter. Plus, it does not come with an answering machine, so he would be like totally in the clear. Just thank goodness no one gave him this last year: Without the scandal, the news outlets would have had to spend November and December covering health care or some horseshit.


The Salatschleuder OSR is a uhhmmm like a canvas bag? And it comes with a salad in it? Or maybe you put salad in it? Except why would you put a salad in a canvas bag, fuck if I know. Honestly I didn’t really do my research on this one guys, but the website is in German, I’ve been drinking Amstel Light for hours, it’s like 2 a.m., and really need a 10th item to finish this list. So: Salatschleuder OSR! If someone in your life has expressed a desire to “zusammengefaltet” or possibly “flach am Haken,” this could very well be the salad and/or canvas bag-related contraption of which they have always dreamed. Christ, how many of these Amstel Lights do you need to drink to get a buzz on? Like 30?


Or, if worse comes to worse, you could give everyone leftover Halloween candy. “I was so enthusiastic about Christmas this year that I acquired your gift a full day before the season officially began,” you could write in their card. Of course as “the season” continues to march forward in the calendar year, you'll have to shift the timeframe of your gifts to stay ahead of the curve. By 2013 you’ll be giving them colored eggs that you hardboiled in May.

Happy holidays!