“Stun a lobster and call your dad.”

OK, since Thursday you have consumed more food than will be eaten in the Sudan between now and Valentine’s Day, you have watched 19 hours of people you will never meet playing football, and your exercise has consisted entirely of standing in line for a product called a Playstation, despite the fact you are 47 years old and by now should have a life.
Is this all you will spend money on this holiday season? Of course not.
Some of us will also buy the new CrustaStun. My friend, Kelly Kendall, alerted me to this product. Essentially, the CrustaStun electrocutes a lobster, which is certainly a more humane way to go than being dropped into a pot of boiling water. But, of course, when the CrustaStun is done you are still left with a giant dead earwig on steroids. My point? Why in the world anyone ever decided to eat one of those babies in the first place is completely beyond me.
Nonetheless, I do savor the start of the holiday season. But I also believe this should be a month when we take the time to celebrate each other, not spend every waking moment trying to find a parking space within the same state as the shopping mall, or ordering presents online. (If we are online, we should be using the time constructively to spell words phonetically on our instant-messaging system as if it were 1841 and we had only gone to school till we were seven.)
Consequently, so you can spend more time with your family and less time shopping, once again this year here are five gifts — not including the CrustaStun — that people (and animals) on your list might desire. I am not being sarcastic. Unlike the CrustaStun, these are all items that I appreciate.
1. Weasel Balls. That sounds worse than it is. I really liked my weasel ball. So did my cats. A weasel ball is, in essence, a plastic orb the size of a baseball with a faux fur tail attached to it. The ball has a battery-powered motor inside it, as well as a small weight, and the result is a ball and a tail that roll spasmodically around your kitchen floor.
2. The Sharper Image Ionic Breeze Air Purifier. I gave my wife one for Valentine’s Day. To be honest, Valentine’s Day is not the best time to give your spouse an air purifier. But the product still fascinates me. I place it near our wood stove and watch it filter from the air the particles that prior to that were making themselves right at home in my family’s lungs. During the International Paper tire burn, I placed it outside my front door. It didn’t seem as effective, but in hindsight I can’t imagine how I thought a smoldering tire would fit through its vents.
3. A telephone headset. There is no better way to do the dishes than while talking to my father. Wait, I have that backwards. There is no better way to talk to my father than while doing the dishes. With a headset, you almost always can multitask.
4. A professional massage. No one doesn’t like a massage. Even people who’ve never had a massage like massages. They just view them as a luxury — or, in some cases, they’re uncomfortable having a stranger’s hand on their bodies. Well, tell them to get over it. A professional massage is a great gift.
5. Floor mats for your car. The only thing people treat more cavalierly than their toothbrushes are the floor mats in their automobiles. When was the last time you changed your toothbrush? Well, it’s been even longer for the floor mats. But think of how much time you spend in your car: Far more, I would wager, than you spend brushing your teeth. This is especially true if, like me, you live in Lincoln. Nothing is in walking distance of Lincoln, except for more Lincoln. Oh, wait, the Long Trail is here, too. But most of us drive to get there.
So, there you have it: An instant shopping list. Now go stun a lobster and call your dad. Happy Holidays.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on November 26, 2006.)

Chris Bohjalian
Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of eighteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Guest Room. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, and The Double Bind.

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