By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Each year at this time we try to perform our civic duty by providing suggestions for silly and useless gifts for the upcoming holiday season. Last year I included such things as a harness for your chicken and a “Pull My Finger” Santa. Boy, was I ever off the mark. As it turned out, the most useless gifts for 2020 would have been tickets to a Broadway show, a gift certificate for business attire, or a European river cruise in July. So I’m cautiously taking a different approach to the list for 2021. Herewith is a list of what I hope will be useless in 2021:
Coffee Mug Map of My House: When I was a kid the phrase “shelter in place” meant we ducked under our school desk for a 5 minute drill. This year, while we weren’t confined to a 2×2 space on a grimy linoleum floor, we did have to spend a whole lot more time inside our homes. Venturing from the kitchen to the patio was the 2020 equivalent to a European Grand Tour.
Toilet Paper Ornament: Never have so many struggled to obtain such a pedestrian item. Toilet paper became the Holy Grail of paper products. People were trading semi-precious stones for a roll of Charmin like they were at a Middle Eastern bazaar. One would think that we had become a nation full of diarrhea-prone idiots. There were jokes going around that in 2050, when people are cleaning out their parent’s homes, they will find a stash of toilet paper that will last another 100 years. The summer brought some sanity to the situation with plenty of stock on the shelves but, alas, the recent uptick in Covid has caused people to lose their minds again. Look for large quantities of tp for sale on Ebay when this thing ends.
Costco: I don’t really want Costco to become useless in 2021. I love Costco. How could you not love a store that produces such a perfect pumpkin pie? But in 2020 Costco has become a madhouse. At our local warehouse lines stretched around the store 30 minutes before it opened. When the metal grate finally lifted there was a mad rush to the back of the store for….you guessed it…toilet paper! And paper towels, meat, Lysol wipes and liquor. Lots of liquor. Last week when I was there I discovered that Extra Strength Tylenol is now on the restricted list, as it is what’s recommended to thwart the effects of the COVID vaccine. So, I’ve made my last trip to Costco for the year – I’m just not up for being an unwilling participant in the Supermarket Sweepstakes frenzy.
Hand Sanitizer: My hands are chapped, my nails are split and I rub my hands with sanitizer like an obsessive-compulsive person in “the home”. I never thought that I would switch up my perfume for “Essence of Purell”. Early on there was a huge shortage of sanitizer but then some geniuses figured out how to use regular alcohol to manufacture it and suddenly our local brewery became the best place to score some. Now it is ubiquitous, featured on the end caps of every store from Target to the gas station. I think the person who can come up with toilet paper and paper towels with hand sanitizer built in could make a fortune.
Lounge Wear: Personally, I love a good pair of sweatpants. I have some in every color, ranging from formal black to “greet the Amazon delivery person” gray. Prior to the pandemic I really deplored people wearing their pajamas to the grocery store. Now it’s so common it’s startling when you see someone with pants that actually zip. There have been numerous studies over the years around the concept of “you are what you wear” and they all agree that dressing well positively impacts self-esteem and how you interact with the world. Based on what I’ve observed in the past few months we have desperately low self-esteem, bordering on self-flagellation. Hopefully when we regain some sort of normalcy we will also see the return of buttons and a sharp crease.
Working from Home: I used to love working from home on occasion. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of doing a load of laundry in between conference calls to make you feel like Super Multi-Tasker. But I can probably speak for every working parent that we have reached the limit of how much time we want to work from our living rooms. Turns out that most people like the interaction with people other than their immediate family and pets. Plus, working while trying to futilely understand your third grader’s math problems is humiliating at best. The goal for 2021 is to get everyone back where they belong – kids in school and adults at work. For those women whose job was already full with child-rearing and running a household, I say they have earned a very well deserved rest, complete all the chocolate and wine they can consume.
That’s it for this year. I’m looking forward to 2021, when a finger-pulling Santa is the highlight of my list.
And stay tuned for December 21 where I will once again share our dad’s recipe for his Christmas Ice Cream Fizz. This year we may have fewer people gathered around but if ever there was a year where we need to double the recipe, this is it.