Well, here we are again, on the cusp of Christmas and Kwanzaa, and nearly burned through those Hanukkah candles, and yet some of us are still chipping away at our holiday shopping lists. Or, you know, staring at them like we've been struck with a paralyzing blow-dart, waiting for any scrap of meaning to spontaneously arise, the same way we gaze at walls, the flickering interior of the fridge or episodes of Emily in Paris. The alternating torpor and frenzy of the pandemic has rendered time meaningless except for the sudden shock of arriving deadlines. Unprecedented times!
Whether our loved ones are far away or close for the holidays — so freaking close! — right on top of us since March! — they're all facing the uncertainty of exponential COVID-19 spread, the drag of pandemic fatigue and a presidential transition that could go peacefully or rend the fabric of our democracy. It's a toss-up! So what do you get the person who's freaked out about everything? Here's a helpful roundup of some of our favorite of-the-moment gifts for friends and family just trying to get through 2020.
The Crusher weighted blanket, $295
Fans of cozy weighted blankets sing their praises for quelling anxiety. An average one weighs in at 15 to 25 pounds, but we're not dealing with average anxiety, are we? The Crusher is a thought-blotting 200 pounds and comes with cables that hook into the floor so you can't move beyond sort of shimmying from one side to the other. Getting out of bed today was a mistake — no sense taking any chances tomorrow!
Out There Candles, $20-$40
Remember coffee shops? Bowling alleys? Airport baggage claim? Out There takes you on a sensory journey to the once pedestrian places that the pandemic has rendered nostalgic and even exotic. Its line of soy candles evoke the myriad fragrances of car dealerships, bars in the middle of the day and waiting in lines at amusement parks. Close your eyes and breathe deep — it's almost like you're there.
Out There Candles' Turn Back Collection, $20-$40
The same quality soy candles and premium cotton wicks, but with scents that counter pandemic fatigue by reminding you how unpleasant the outside world can be. Hankering for a jaunt to San Francisco? Light up Mystery Sidewalk Urine and you won't know quite where that smell is coming from. The urine is definitely human, though.
Volcanica Bath Bombs, $10 each
Who couldn't use a transportive spa experience in all this chaos? The combination of proprietary and semi-legal essential oils and very, very hot water evoke mild hallucinations that soothe the stress of witnessing the daily attempts of an outgoing administration to subvert the will of voters and knowing about a third of the folks in your virtual book club are fine with sacrificing your aging parents for the sake of cruising the aisles at Target without a mask. Shhhhh. Just watch the rising steam twist into teeny-tiny clouds and circus animals.
Burning Issues News Service, $150 subscription
Sorting through all the news from so many sources every day — every hour! — is overwhelming. Burning Issues simplifies the media madness by delivering a paper to your doorstep on fire. Put on your robe, open your front door and there it is, in flames, its embers floating away in the breeze. Add a gift subscription for an additional $40 and receive a burning copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Corkers Wine Club, $500 annual subscription
Miss those wine tastings? This is a monthly wine subscription club made for the pandemic. Not only are the highly rated wines curated to fit your taste profile and delivered to your home with zero contact, they're also delivered all at once! The whole year's worth. Because fuck it.
East Wind DIY Acupuncture Kit, $45
There are some 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body according to the very first thing that came up on Google. And the East Wind home kit has, like, 3,000 needles, so you're bound to hit something to take the edge off your chronic pain and stress. It may sound a little chancy but so does a massage or a haircut from another human being right now. And at least you'll feel something.
Chipper Popcorn Factory Trio, $30
This, this is just a lot of popcorn. It's like an oil drum. But somebody was bound to send popcorn and it might as well be you. And it's fine. It's salty and sweet and buttery and whoever gets it will pound it in about two days of bingeing Netflix from under the immobilizing weight of a Crusher blanket, waiting for night to fall so they can pass out again.
Nihilista 2021 Calendar, $28
Remember how we swore 2017 would be different? How 2018 was trash and we couldn't wait for it to be over? Then we were sure there was nowhere to go but up from 2019? Haha! Ha. Yeah. Uber-minimalist stationery company Nihilista, which brought us last year's sleeper hit graphite-less pencils, has created the only calendar for what may lie ahead: twelve completely blank 11-by-17-inch, spiral-bound pages facing supersaturated blackness. No dates, no days of the week, not even little squares to fill in or make lists or ultimately pointless plans. Just month after month of looking into the void and the void looking back. Hang it vertically, lay it out like a book — either way it makes no difference.
Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the Journal's arts and features editor. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or Jennifer@northcoastjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.