The holiday season is a time when we should ponder the message of the classic tale A Christmas Carol by the great English writer whatshishame. In this story, the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who cares about nothing but money, is visited in his house on Christmas Eve by three ghosts -- the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Vice President Dick Cheney. They make Scrooge see the error of his ways by showing him what the town of Bedford Falls would have been like if James Stewart had never been born.
We can never watch that movie without crying. This is mainly because of our eggnog recipe (one egg, one quart rum). But it's also because the story of Scrooge reminds us what truly matters during the holiday season. Too often, all we think about at this time of year is presents -- shopping for them, giving them, getting them, opening them, trying to find eight double-A batteries for them, etc. But the lesson of A Christmas Carol is clear: We must not think only about presents. We must also think about securing our house from intruders, so they can't come in and steal our presents.
Yes, the sad truth is that there are bad people out there -- people who see the holiday season as an opportunity to perpetrate crimes and cruel scams on innocent victims. A good example is this Annual Holiday Gift Guide, which we publish every year in lieu of something that might actually be useful. This year is no exception. We have assembled a collection of gift concepts so unusual, so distinctive, that you will say: ``You made those up, right?''
No. There is not enough eggnog in the world. All of the Holiday Gift Guide items are actual products that you can buy (except for one that might be imaginary, which is just as well). We know this because we purchased them ourselves, taking care not to use our own personal money. After we received the items, we subjected each of them to our rigorous Two Step Quality Assurance Test:
Step One: We examine the item to see if it has the words ''MADE IN CHINA'' on it.
Step Two: If it does, we drop it like a diseased rodent.
It is because of the rigorousness of this test that we are able to offer you our exclusive Holiday Gift Guide ''No Excuses'' Warranty, which states: ''If you purchase any item from this Gift Guide, you basically have no excuses.''
But enough legal boilerplate. Let's take a look at this year's crop of gift ideas, starting with: