The key question this holiday gift-giving season is simple: What do you get for the person who only wants this godforsaken year to end?
That person is most of us. We’ve had enough. We want little more than for the hands of time to get a move on and propel us out of 2020, a tragically ongoing year that has achieved synonymity with the term “dumpster fire.”
Consider, briefly, the torrent of terribleness that rained down on us this year: a deadly coronavirus pandemic that, as you read this, is taking lives and derailing holiday plans and traditions; wildfires raging in the West; civil unrest across the country; the Summer Olympics postponed; movie theaters, bars and restaurants shut down; a wildly divisive presidential election; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death; Kobe Bryant’s death; Chadwick Boseman’s death; Eddie Van Halen’s death.
Shall I go on? No, I shall not. This is, after all, a holiday gift guide and not an airing of woes. Suffice it to say 2020 has been a bit much.
If you asked me what I would most like to find under the Christmas tree this year, I’d say: “Next year.” And I bet many others have holiday lists that look like this:
1) Nice lotion for hands raw from hand-washing
So we have a gift-giving dilemma. America lacks affordable time-travel technology, and America’s witches are notoriously unwilling to publish books detailing spells that might effectively POOF! us from one year to the next.
That means we have to be clever. We have to find gifts for the “PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE!” crowd that will improve, or at least make tolerable, the dreary days between the holidays and the new year.
Fortunately, I have a few ideas. (You’re welcome.)
1) Customized 2020 T-shirt. This lovingly silk-screened T-shirt is 90 percent cotton and 10 percent artisanal kerosene and reads: “I Survived 2020 And All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt That I Will Now Burn In Protest!” The shirt is guaranteed to become a treasured favorite for the 15-minute window between unwrapping it, tossing it in a fire pit and setting it ablaze while screaming, “BE GONE, HORRIBLE YEAR! BE GONE!!” (Matches and fire pit not included.)
2) 2021 Calendar of 2020 Calendars Being Shredded and Trod Upon. This gift will allow your loved ones to revisit their visceral hatred of the year 2020 each month of the new year! The calendar features 12 high-definition images of a 2020 calendar being destroyed in spectacular fashion. For example, January’s photo shows a 2020 Garfield calendar getting torn to pieces by a pack of rabid chinchillas. And you won’t want to miss April, which captures the moment a 2020 Joke-of-the-Day calendar was blown to pieces by a grenade thrown by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
3) A “2020 Memories” journal. This handcrafted, leather-bound journal will allow the deep-thinkers in your life to preserve their thoughts as the year comes to a close. It contains zero pages and will crumble to dust on Jan. 1, 2021. (Pen not included, for obvious reasons.)
4) An abbreviated-by-one-year “Timeline of American History” poster. History buffs will cherish this suitable-for-framing, 6-foot-long, 1-foot-wide poster that traces highlights of American history from the year 1776 to the year 2019. The year 2020 is not listed, but is acknowledged in a small footnote that reads: “Don’t ask.”
5) Coronavirus face mask with eye and ear covering. Stylish face masks are all the rage in our coronavirus-altered world, but this one is designed specifically to get people through the end of 2020 healthy and unable to witness any additional horrors. The part of the mask that covers the nose and mouth is made of silky biodegradable materials and includes a pocket for a filter or your existential angst. But unlike regular masks, this one comes with a band of heavy black cotton that covers both eyes and two noise-canceling ear plugs, making it impossible for the wearer to read or hear bad news.
There are, of course, a multitude of more traditional gifts out there, as you’ll see in the pages that follow. Just because we all want to flee 2020 like a mouse in a barn full of hungry cats doesn’t mean every gift should be worst-year-ever-centric.
In fact, as we reach the highly anticipated conclusion of this column, it’s worth noting that even in the worst of times, we can all find good things to celebrate. Like each other. And the blessings we have.
To paraphrase the inestimable words of Dr. Seuss, as he detailed the Grinch’s marvelous realization that gifts, in years good or bad, might not be as crucial as advertised: What if the holidays, perhaps, mean a little bit more?
May your holidays be meaningful. And may next year, which I still argue can’t come soon enough, be a doubly good one.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.