In case you need this

Many fine bloggers handle In Case You Missed It posts, wherein they point us to lovely writing, hilarious rants, and cultural memes. They keep us abreast of the words and images that we might enjoy.

In that spirit, for this season of catalogs full of stuff nobody needs, pleas to spend money few of us have, and pressure to cement relationships that none of us really want, I offer the following.

DJ Cat Scratching Pad at Uncommon Goods

The cat scratcher guaranteed to get your cat a job. Tired of your pet lounging about, leaving hair everywhere, and whining about it being “dinnertime” and “cuddle time”? Get your cat this scratching turntable. And get him out of the house for a new career in the club scene the kids are all talking about. In the ’80s.

Potager Coffee Table at VivaTerra


The toddler entertainment center. Wondering how to occupy your toddler while family gathers to drink heavily and scream at each other? Get this gorgeous coffee table complete with sharp corners, potted plants, and unattended wine glasses. Your wee one can learn valuable lessons about the physical world by scattering dirt all over the living room, sipping adult beverages, shattering glass, and uprooting cacti. The highly sought-after blood-snot-tears sprinkler effect resulting from her profusely bleeding head-wound, thorn-implanted fingers, and wrought-iron-pinched fingers might even stop the family bickering for a while. I hear the well-lit and bustling E.R. is a great place to spend the Winter Solstice.

Out of the Woods Tool Kit from Sundance Catalog

A gorgeous reinterpretations of an old classic. Why get simple, functional tools for someone who needs a screwdriver, ruler, level and flashlight, when you can get simple, functional, expensive tools? Levels are wonderful for fun and sport, especially when one of the three axes is replaced with a logo. Flashlights help in so, so many darknesses, and wax even brighter when set in sustainably grown beech wood. Multi-tipped screwdrivers are endlessly useful, but even more so when included in a canvas carrying case. Four tools *plus* a carrying case for $95? Oh, the value.

Okay. That’s all I care to share. The secret to shopping this holiday season is finding gifts that show people you care, that you think of them, and that you want to leave a glow of joy in their lives. To that end, my kids and I will spend hours deciding who on our list will get what from this catalog.

Oxfam Unwrapped Catalog

It might not be a job for our cat, a party in the ER, or a wildly useful reinvented bag of simplicity, but giving a family whose needs outstrip those without sustainable beech artisan tools something useful like a goat, a flock of geese, a piglet, or a hive of bees can feel pretty good. As a survivor of a couple of natural disasters, I might choose to send emergency supplies to those in need as a gift to my family and friends.

And for the cost of a cat scratcher, a potager table, and an imported tool set we can give families in need a pig, a cow, honeybees, a dozen chicks, a couple of goats, a donkey cart, and a bicycle. For a few people on our list, we’ll send a a pile of crap in their name.

Or a for the same cost we can buy a six backpacks full of food for six hungry American children. For a YEAR.

Or more than 200 pairs of socks dropped off at our local homeless shelter.

Or more than 75 bags to hand out to homeless people in our area, each with peanut butter, bread, plastic utensils, and a bottle of honey. Everyone deserves a peanut butter and honey sandwich in the cold, dark days of December.*

*Except the peanut-butter allergic among us. Dudes. I’m so sorry. Peanut butter is cheap and full of protein, but you deserve to be safe. You’re welcome to a bag with sunflower seed butter instead. Be careful out there in this season of peanut butter donations, friends. I’ll have a couple of bags without any nut products just for you. XOXO.

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15 thoughts on “In case you need this

  1. No way, I don’t need a pile of crap. I have plenty in my house. ;-)

    We’re pretty cash strapped this year. I believe I will be donating my TIME, because I have so much of it. So much, as a matter of fact, that I have no idea how to use it properly!

  2. Putting my cats to work is a great idea! Perhaps I could train my dogs to rap to the cat scratch. :)
    Seriously though, I have my children select a gift from a similar organization when it is their birthday. We have also sponsored three children from different countries for many years now. I hope it helps to ingrain in my children how blessed they truly are (even though by American standards we’re not rich) and to remember that it is important to share our good fortune with others.

    • Exactly my point: I don’t know anyone who is rich by American standards, but as soon as you start talking about clean water, access to education, and daily meals, almost everyone I know is insanely blessed.

      Books and clean water will change the world. And we can make that happen even with limited resources.

  3. Christmas shopping stresses me out so bad in part because most of the adults in my life have everything they could ever need. I hate buying junk. Two years ago we bought goats from Heifer Int’l on behalf of several family members for their gifts and they loved it (or so they said), so thank you for inspiring me to do it again.

    I’m going to guess the person who blows $95 on that fancy toolkit is going to hire someone else to do the labor.

  4. I love sunbutter. Add some cocoa powder, butter, 10x, and a splash of vanilla….and presto… fudge.

    My offer for your “in case you missed it” meme. You will howl at this, cat lover.

  5. We dropped out of the ridiculously elaborate family gift exchange a few years ago. Can’t stand it. We donate to Heifer International instead. Christmas is mostly for kids, anyway, and even they don’t need much.

    I recently saw some article on CNBC or somewhere about how families “creatively finance” Christmas. It was terrifying and infuriating at the same time.

    Our older son is getting a tool box from us with real tools in it this year. We asked anyone who wanted to buy him a gift to please get him a real tool instead of some plastic toy that will be tossed in a year. Our younger son is getting nothing from us, because he is five months old, COME ON.

    Bet they’ll still both get a boatload of junk anyway though. Oh well. Happiness and joy to all!

    • Oh, toy junk, how I wish I didn’t rely on you to entertain the kids…
      I like the holidays for the wholesale replacement of kid toys in our family. The boys go through the house and donate everything they’re not using so they can make space for the new stuff. We keep blocks and dollhouse and play kitchen and books, but everything else is fair game for upheaval and replacement.

      Because new toys are fun.

      So are real tools, which my kids love. But they don’t “own” any of their own. Maybe I should look into that, but we do mostly wood and recycled plastic toys, so I don’t feel too badly about the breakable and donated stuff.

      Adults, though? Heifer. Oxfam. Red Cross. Gifts that actually give something.

      • I wish I COULD rely on the junk to entertain my kid. Alas, he’s much more entertained by a cardboard box and some duct tape and pencils (it became a boat with sails) or a screwdriver so he can fix his digger. Until he’s not entertained and wants to go outside RIGHT NOW, 25 degrees and howling wind be damned.

        The ride-on digger that lives in our living room is the exception. Thank you, Aunt Marilyn, for that particular piece of sturdy plastic that sees daily use.

  6. I also like donating this time of year… or getting a donation in my name. Who needs more stuff?

    And what’s with all the… excuse my French… cat shit everywhere on the web these days??

    Can’t go anywhere without seeing some cat pic or cat video. I like cats, but, uh…Is this what we do now instead of reading?

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