As specific deadlines for Doomsday go, the Mayan end of the long count is totally implausible, and badly timed. Since the end of days is allegedly set for December 21, 2012,if the holiday shopping season ended three days early, truncated by this mystical Mayan mumbo-jumbo, the mother of all fiscal cliffs would suddenly appear. Seasonal shopping is the warp-drive engine of the American economy. Without the holidays, we’d be drifting in space on impulse-buying alone.
Besides, Doomsday is always indefinitely postponed. Gullibility was responsible for the great Millerite disappointment of 1844, and also the most recent non-event, set for January 1, 2000. At the turn of the millennium, before the Y2K fizzle drained all the spit-valves on the trumpets of doom, a manic national shopping spree made the economy skyrocket. People were spending thousands of dollars, at retail prices on survival gear, for a perpetual camping trip that never happened.
And damn it, my 62nd birthday is the next day. Doomsday would screw up my birthday and Christmas, not to mention my Social Security benefits. Personally, I believe anything can happen during the winter solstice, but probably nothing will.
But what if I’m wrong? Why take a chance? As always, the odds of the world ending on any given day are 50-50. Either it will, or it won’t. You should take this prophecy as the ideal chance to buy certain gifts that will come in handy, should the Mayans be correct, but are equally practical if nothing happens.
The right gift should be portable, or at least small enough to fit in the average briefcase, purse, bug-out bag, fanny pack, or coffin-organizer, because you can take some things with you, and you should. In fact, consider gifting yourself these needful things. The old adage says that it’s better to give than to receive, but on the whole, both are pretty good.
For those on your list, give them something they’ll keep as if their lives depended on it -- because it might someday.
1. A water purifier.
Everyone on your list drinks water, every single day. After a big hurricane, for instance, questionable drinking water can be found in American cities, not just in foreign countries. Therefore, a gift of immediate, safe, potable water will always be welcome, possibly even life-saving. If you love life and your loved ones, the Life Straw means never having to say you’re thirsty.
While it won’t remove heavy metals, viruses, or salt, it does remove 99.99% of waterborne bacteria and 99.90% of protozoans. It filters down to 0.2 microns, weighs only 2 ounces, and fits in a pocket.
2. Self powering lights.
Can you see without the lights on? Neither could one family in Woodbine, Maryland after Frankenstorm struck, but they were prepared. Dependable light might save the life of one you dearly love. On that principle, buy one for yourself as well.
Don’t waste your gift-giving dollars on flashlights that wear out , or are needy about batteries and bulbs. Invest in the Forever Flashlight 3. It’s a handy tool for teaching kids about the Faraday Principle of Magnetic Energy, because that’s how it works. Mine has been in constant hard use for years, and it’s the last pocket torch I’ll ever need. It comes in clear, red, blue, gray, and the coolest of all, camo.
3. A personal survival tool.
If you’re not carrying a multi-tool at all times, what will you do when you need a pocketknife, bottle opener, can opener, file, awl, saw, and needlenose pliers? My first Leatherman PST was purchased in 1984. I used it every day of a few months in Mexico, giving it to my landlady’s handyman when I left. I bought another Leatherman the day I returned to Portland. Since then, I’ve owned over twenty, always a different model. The tiniest fit on a keychain.
The Victorinox Swiss Tool X is, in my humble but arguably expert opinion on tools, the next closest in value and utility. But Leatherman's are made here in America, so your money stays at home. Leatherman’s warranty on tools lasts for 25 years, but mine never broke; losing one would be unthinkable, like losing a passport.
The recurring problem is, I keep meeting people who desperately need such a versatile tool, from young friends joining the Peace Corps to old campesinos who befriended a stranger in a strange land at Christmas, 1984. There is no better gift for the amount of versatility and price. If you don’t have one, do the math. Two cost only twice as much.
4. A bug-out bag.
Hurricane Sandy demonstrated that anyone can be suddenly evacuated from their home, proving the wisdom of having a few things ready in a small packed bag by the door. Among survivalists, seasoned travelers, and soldiers, this is called a “bug-out bag.” A very good (although expensive) one is made by Camelbak, called The Ambush.
5. Farm or construction gloves.
Gloves are de rigueur in wintertime, so loved ones won’t be expecting very durable, extremely flexible, highly practical gloves made of elk hides or goatskin. Effete light driving gloves and bulky wool mittens are not suitable for changing tires, chucking cordwood, or hauling sappy evergreens up three flights of stairs, but these are. Give some, get some. If Doomsday fools everyone else by arriving, your hands will thank you while you’re sorting through the rubble for food or stacking the bodies of plague victims.
A chemical handwarmer is the perfect stocking-stuffer, because winters are cold, duh. You can buy the cheap disposable kind if you have no environmental conscience, or several of these. In the long run reusable warmers cost less. Or, after The End: priceless.
7. Gold or silver.
Don’t forget your rich, ailing uncle on this doomsday holiday. A small coin made of gold or silver is fungible wealth, and it always will be, no matter what the market does. It can never lose its intrinsic value, and can be sold or traded anytime, should Doomsday come or not.
Give cash and it may be spent tomorrow; but this kind of coin will hang around for years. Don’t think of it as ready money but as a sure investment in tomorrow — a handy emergency reserve, and an emblem of a time when coins weren’t fake money.
Not to worry, but if the dollar ever does collapse, heaven forbid, exactly as the Reichsmark and Roman denarius did, your giftee won’t be completely pauperized. “In God We Trust” is stamped on every base-metal token, but He made precious metals for a reason.
*THE END (of list)*