Published in the December 8, 2016 edition.


I was relieved the other day when my L.L. Bean Christmas Gift Guide arrived in the mail. Not that I plan to buy any gifts from it. In fact, I’m at a bit of a loss as to why I’m even on their mailing list. I can only guess that I must have purchased something online with a gift card I was given a few Christmases ago.

I was relieved because I can now pass along some helpful gift ideas – for you to give to me, your humble correspondent. The items in the catalog are a little out of my price range but I’m always open to accepting gifts from my fans, especially those of you who like to pass along helpful journalistic tips for improving the quality of my columns.

Don’t think I don’t appreciate your suggestions. But a Sherpa-Lined Chamois Shirt ($99) from L.L. Bean would sure help to keep your favorite wordsmith comfy on the chilly winter nights to come.

Speaking of keeping warm, I could also use a nice L.L. Bean flannel-lined sleeping bag for when I go camping in the Berkshires on my weekend trips to Tanglewood next summer. I’ll take the “Flower Power” style ($89.95). And, why yes, I would like my zip-top stuff sack monogrammed. Blue thread and Times Block lettering, please.

You could also brighten my holiday with a Waxed-Canvas Boat and Tote bag ($89). L.L. Bean’s description makes it sound super fabulous. “Versatile, lightweight tote that’s perfect for shopping or as a gift.” There you go! Perfect for you as a gift to me, and perfect for me when I’m shopping at the Farmers Market or Trader Joe’s. (Oh, and it’s also monogrammable, hint, hint.)

And speaking of bags, I do have a fireplace (who doesn’t?). So an L.L Bean Wool-Plaid Log Carrier ($69) with “rugged leather handles and trim” would also come in handy. According to the L.L. Bean Gift Guide, this “heritage inspired log carrier is a handsome and convenient way to haul firewood from the stack to the house.” Those who know me know that I like to strike a handsome and stylish look no matter what I’m doing, even hauling firewood.

But hauling in the firewood with my Wool-Plaid Log Carrier won’t do me much good if I can’t get a fire going. So a thoughtful idea would be a box of L.L. Bean’s pine fatwood kindling ($39.95). The sticks are of course “all natural” and contain “no chemicals or additives.” The refillable wooden storage crate ($49.95) would be a nice added touch.

And I know you worry about your favorite essayist’s safety. I can’t very well bang out those words you so love to read if my fingertips are singed, after all. So a nice pair of thick, leather L.L. Bean fireplace gloves ($89) would ensure that these delicate hands are protected from the scorching heat of a roaring fire.

But, as the saying goes, all work and no play make Mark a dull scribe. So how about a little something to encourage your prized pundit to step away from the keyboard and take an occasional break from tapping out the mellifluous prose that you voraciously devour?

I can think of nothing better to get me outside on a snowy winter’s day than L.L. Bean’s “Snowman Family Kit” ($34.95). I might have gone with “Snowperson,” but I’ll take that up with the Gift Guide publisher later. The kit contains “everything you need to create a frosty family and pet, except the snow.”

While I’m out there in the front yard building my family of snow humans, I’m bound to get a tad cold, especially in the extremities. That’s when a combo pack of L.L. Bean hand warmers and toe warmers ($29.95) would sure come in handy. (Important note: the hand-warmers are now biodegradable.)

And finally, nothing keeps those creative synapses firing like a steady supply of hot coffee. The L.L. Bean Spillproof Travel Mug (100 percent BPA free, natch) at a mere $29.95 will make sure I never run out of the fuel that powers the words that you can’t live without. For those words are my gift to you, dear readers.

And remember, the joy is in the giving.