by Margaret Dodge
My nieces and nephews aren’t getting any landfill-bound gifts from me. No, not on my refurbished analog watch (with its plastic-waste strap). As a fun, woke auntie, I take my duty very seriously. I’m their only line of defense against the consumerism that bombards them. A few years ago, their grandfather was a showboat with his Jurassic Rex present, but the plastic behemoth now taunts us from a trash barge, gloating that this time, the dinosaur will outlive us.
Here’s this year’s list for the lucky crew:
Jack, 11: Meet your new best friends—50,000 honeybees! Your hive maintenance duties may cut into your Fortnite time, but it will be so worth it. Fortunately, the licensing requirements in your area are lax, so you can get around any potential child-labor law issues. This is going to be great for your college applications. Please, try not to get stung or your parents will stop talking to me. Again.
Dylan, 7: You may redeem this “Choose Your Own Adventure” on literally any day. One scenario has you in the yard talking to your cat, Elsa, before heading to the sandbox with your BFF to build yet another fabulous residential mound. Another option finds you wandering the forest behind the school making friends with leaves who suddenly decide to perform an improvised musical. Or there’s the classic scene where you get into your mother’s makeup and accessories and play Glamor Time. The possibilities are unlimited, and all up to you. What a gift, right?
Madison, 6: Ever wondered what it would be like to be a real fighter pilot on a combat mission? Strap into the cockpit of this Military Flight Simulator. The forty-minute virtual tour of duty comes bundled with a Groupon for two therapy sessions to ease your post-mission reentry into the second grade.
Charlie, 9: Your gift this year is to make everyones’ gifts next year—with your own pets’ fur! What a stroke of luck that your Golden Retriever, Boris, and Maine Coon cat, Tootsie, have such soft, voluminous, and also colorful coats. This is the “long game” of gifts. For the next seven months (through the crucial summer shedding season) you will brush them daily while studying knitting tutorials on YouTube. In August, we send the collected raw materials to be washed and spun into yarn by enterprising hipster survivalists in the Pacific Northwest. Then, you have five months to knit “woolens” for your whole family. (I would like some Boris mittens with Tootsie trim at the cuffs, please.)
Mia, 4: Look out your window. See that pair of downy woodpeckers? Those are your new cousins, i.e. my adopted children. They will be joining you for lunch every day (as their mom, I will pay). DO NOT eat the seed cakes I will be supplying monthly for the balance of their lifespan.
Luke, 3: A professional photographer captures you in all the best spots with the most flattering lighting on this Nicaragua Selfie Tour. It requires a passport. But you have to be at least 14, so you have plenty of time to get one. You’ll finally be able to get that ‘gram of an active volcano without a bunch of other iPhones intruding in the shot. Instagram will be irrelevant by then, and this tour company likely out of business. Thank goodness, because the fossil fuel and social media aspects of this gift make it repellent. But it’s the zero-footprint thought that counts!
Abigail, 1.5: What better gift for a baby than a stack of carbon offset credit certificates? Finally silence those naysayers who questioned the wisdom of bringing yet another depleter of resources into the world. If only I’d had something to justify my existence when I was your age.