You (Almost) Made It Through a Hellscape of a Year

It’s time to celebrate.

The Holmes smoke grabber ashtray.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Amazon.

In search of the perfect gift? Read more of Slate’s holiday gift guides here.

This entire year has made the most outlandish plot in the Tyler Perry cinematic universe look tame, and if that wasn’t bad enough, now we have to get through the holiday season.

Ho, ho, ho.

I have always dreaded the stretch of time between Nov. 1 and Jan. 2 for reasons that I’d prefer to discuss with my therapist than with the people of the internet. I can, however, appreciate some of what makes it so magical to you normal people: abundant social activity, greater access to tasty baked goods, and increased opportunities to spend time with my loved ones. Alas, 2020 has taken everything but the cookies.


Oh, and of course—2020 still has sales. My fellow holiday haters and seasonal loyalists alike rejoice in the opportunity to save some money on some more shit we don’t need as we attempt to fill the deep, gaping holes in our souls. This year, many of us are dealing with tighter budgets (and deeper holes) if we’re fortunate enough to have cash to spend at all. Retailers are desperate for us to spend money that we probably should be saving up for when the zombie flesh-eating apocalypse of 2021 shuts down most of our jobs. Alas, you and I both know that we’d much rather invest in feeling a bit better in the present moment instead.


With that in mind, I’ve put together a little list of self-indulgent items for you to buy yourself in celebration of (hopefully) making it though this hellscape of a year. Gift them if you please, but think of you, you, glorious, overworked, depressed, and sick-of-being-in-the-house you first!

All jokes aside, this year has done a number on our mental health. If you’ve been considering talking to a professional, either for the first time ever, or for the first time in a while, the dawn of a new year is a great time to take that important step on your own behalf. Psychology Today and Therapy for Black Girls have great directories of providers of different types, many of whom are doing telemedicine. Online-only platforms like Talkspace and Better Help also make it possible to talk to someone from the comfort of your own home, even once it’s safe to leave again.


Sliding your feet into a pair of cozy slippers is like walking across the cool side of the pillow. I’m not terribly poetic, I’m sorry. These slippers feel very good on your feet, they are affordable, and I think you will like them.

This delightfully whipped blend of shea, mango, and cocoa butters is a special treat for thirsty skin, and it will make you smell as good as all the desserts we’ve been forced to make for ourselves this year. Plus, you’ll be supporting a great indie business.

You’ve likely heard by now that weighted blankets are good for anxiety and sleeplessness, but you may have also noticed that they aren’t always superattractive or cozy. This one feels like getting cuddled by a very gentle animal who really wants you to have a good night’s sleep.

You may be dealing with a period of forced celibacy, perhaps the longest, most hopeless one you can remember in your life. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t look (and feel) glamorous and seductive as you lounge about the house. Put this bad boy over a little slip and give the neighbors something to talk about when you make your daily mailbox run; they’re bored and they need it (OK, it’s me—I’m your neighbor that needs excitement. But I also own this get-up, so feel free to talk about me as well.)


You can, of course, also buy this to wear for an actual lover, but I’m not here to help you people out.

OK, maybe you aren’t the type to want to create a neighborhood scandal, and I love that about you. In that case, this cozy fabric cocoon may be more your speed. It feels like being inside of a Glo Worm, a toy that I completely forgot existed until this very moment. It’s very soft.

Some of us have had to call upon the mighty herb a little bit more often than usual in recent months, and some of us do not have the privilege of owning a home that we can cloak in the scent of cannabis without repercussions. If you are among that number, this ashtray isn’t magic, but it will reduce the scent and might help you get your security deposit back.

Rachel True, actress and prototype for a generation of Black girl bohemians, has put together a lovely introduction to the tarot that is easy and delightful to follow. Part memoir, part guidebook, this set is right on time for folks who are looking for new ways to make sense of the world around them.

Perhaps you retreat to your car to smoke, or maybe it smells a little bit less than fresh because you went a few days without driving and totally forgot about that half a chicken sandwich you planned to eat later. Either way, this travel-size oil diffuser is small enough to fit in your cup holder and will leave your car smelling like a hippie bookstore (or some other less polarizing space of your choice).

This scrub will scrape away all that dry, stressed out skin you’ve been neglecting for the past couple of months, and it’s available unscented and in a huge range of popular scents (I’m partial to the honeysuckle).

It totally stands to reason that you’ve had more on your mind lately than the condition of your feet. However, I urge you to consider how good it would be to touch the bottom of your soles and feel something pleasing. A little extra attention to your care habits, if you can afford to give it, can go a long way in boosting your spirits. I don’t know what professionals (dermatologists, even pedicurists) think about these sorts of things, but I find these peeling masks relaxing to wear and over the course of a few weeks, they leave my feet reupholstered, removing all that dry, neglected skin.