Saturday, November 30, 2013

And They're Off!

If you are Jewish, the rush, be it emotionally, physically and/or economically, is already over. That's because for the first time since 1888, the holiday most closely associated with Hanukkah is not Christmas, but Thanksgiving. And so if your turkey this year was accompanied by latkes as opposed to mashed potatoes, as the saying goes, stick a fork in you because you are done with your gift gathering. You can sit back and watch the rest of the populace go mano-a-mano in the great tradition known as the "Christmas Shopping Season."

Even if you take the Hanukkah shoppers out of the equation, this year's retail slugfest promises to be even more competitive than the last. That's because through yet another quirk in the calendar, there are just 26 shopping days between turkey day and Christmas, 6 fewer than last year. It's just one more reason pushing big box retailers like Walmart, Macy's, Kohl's and Best Buy to push Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day itself. And lest you think it's just the brick and mortar retailers that are the only ones ramping up the action, Amazon recently announced a deal with the US Postal system to deliver packages on Sundays.

So what are you going to have to wrestle away from that woman in front of you in line just pretending to be a grandmother? For sure there will be tablets and videogames, sweaters and gloves, as well as things that sparkle in the light and others that require batteries to do the same. But a quick look finds some things that really are different, certainly enough so that those receiving them will not be lying when they say, "Well! I never saw that coming!"

For instance, with cold weather approaching, you might want to consider the Call Me Gloves. For sure this pair is cozy warm, but they are also Bluetooth enabled, and sport a microphone in the pinkie and a speaker in the thumb. When your phone rings, just press the "Answer" button the left cuff, and hold your hand up to your face in the universal "call me" hand symbol to talk. Just be prepared for lot of weird looks as people see you chatting into your hand.

If you know someone who takes their barbeque seriously, you might want to consider the Pit Boss Pro BBQ Tool Belt. Just like a carpenter has the perfect spots for a hammer and tape measure, the Pit Boss has a holster for tongs, a loop for a thermometer, pockets for shakers of seasonings and bottles of sauce, and 2 insulated "quick draw" cozys for beer. It also comes with "Chow Chaps" that clip onto the belt and hang down, so the grease on the tongs doesn't get on your pitmaster's pants.

Cyclists, are like golfers, are always looking for that special something to perfect their ride. Odds are the ones you know already have a helmet, water bottle and gloves. They likely also have a handlebar mounted cycling computer or mount for their phone, and a mirror to see behind them. But bet they don't have video. That's right; just like the one in your Lexus, the Rearview Bike Camera with its handlebar mounted screen lets them see behind themselves without turning around. Now they can tell if someone really is following them.

Finally, if your tough guy or girl thinks they have the stuff, the Bear Grylls Survivor Course just opened its US outpost in the Catskills. Gyrlls, know as much for his lack of squeamishness in the wilderness as for the lack of vowels in his name, has taken his popular cable TV "Man vs. Wild" show, and made an audience participation experience like few others. Taking reservations now for the inaugural outings in the spring, you can sign up for a 5-day survival course or 24-hour family adventure. Personally speaking, I'd like to see how he preps his two younger boys to handle survival when they get to middle school: his seven-year old is named Marmaduke, while his 4 year-old is Huckleberry.

Better get going. None of these items will last, and you don't want to get caught having to settle for buying yet another set of socks. Unless you just give up on this year, that is, and set your sights on next: in that light, note that there are just 391 days till NEXT Christmas.


Marc Wollin of Bedford hasn't even started to think about the holidays. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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