"The St. Nicks tradition in Czech - we have the St. Nick (Russian style bearded dude in bishopric outfit with a long staff), accompanied by the devil (of course black and with horns) with long chains, potatoes and sack for bad children and then an angel to balance the whole trio out.
One of my friends was doing this to earn money in college and had some hilarious stories involving inordinate alcohol consumption in the process of visiting all the poor children whose unwitting parents contracted this bunch".
Do we want to hear these stories people? HELL YES. We do. But in the meantime, feast your eyes on the following indescribably creepy tableaux:
Firstly "The devil wears a Kevin Keegan wig" would have been a much better title, Lauren Weisberger or whatever your name is. Secondly, Czech Colleague told me to note that the angel had been replaced by a second devil here. I couldn't even see Devil 2 to start with, but then those disturbing features started to coalesce into a humanoid (well, sort of. Is it a cyclops?) form around St Nick's shoulder - shudder shudder shudder.
First up, Persephone from Hades is looking for help for these two (Persephone I can't link to you because your site breaks my computer at work. And then I have to talk to Johan or Joost in IT and they are really objectionable and slightly rancid. Sorry. She's on the links on the right hand side, people):
Easily Offended Sister: Age is probably inappropriate as she's been suffering from terminal adolescence for years. Tall, red-headed double Leo. (Tread carefully.) When growing up, only wanted whatever her friends had. As far as I can gather, has listened exclusively to compiled tapes and "classic rock" radio stations since graduation. Has become an exercise-nut since diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes four years ago. Likes fantasy fiction and lesbian folk-rock. Asthmatic. Weepy and sentimental mother of two slightly-used children.
Her Husband, The Jolly Green Brother-in-law (isn't actually green; is jolly some of the time): 6'7" computer geek, ten years my sister's junior. Is into every computer/video game that I know nothing about, which is all of them. Also into classic Superman and graphic novels (another rather blank area for me -- the only graphic novel I ever "got" was Maus). Have yet to buy him clothes that actually fit, even when consulting "big and tall" stores for men.
Hmm. First I consulted the gmail oracle, who suggested "Real men's Hawaiian shirts". Persephone was quite encouraged by this idea. I reckon if they like Hawaii a ukulele each might be nice too. They could play lesbian complaint rock together. Fingers got a red uke last year, and the label had a bikini-clad Hawaiian beauty frolicking in the surf with her trusty ukulele. Consequently he insists it is his "Ukulele de mer" and only plays it on holiday at the beach. True story.
I found these two cheat lists of Top 10 graphic novels for JGBIL. BMF, whose mission is to be genuinely helpful as opposed to stupid like me, suggests the DVD of Sin City even though he describes it as "appallingly bad". We both like these radio controlled jousting knights and I am still trying to find someone who will wear the beard hat. Might JGBIL be the one? A USB light sabre? We are struggling, as you can see. Quarsan? I think you could help out here. Being male and full of wrongness.
Easily Offended sister might like a pair of genuine squirrel foot earrings? Or maybe a pretty tree ornament? I'm sorry. I will stop just putting in Craftastrophe links. It's too, too easy. But so tempting! Hey, how about some of the new winter furry FitFlops. They are less fugly (and crucially MUCH cheaper) than MBTs and good for her exercise-obsessive side. She can be working out even as she wanders around her home grooving to classic rawk! Miraculous.
BMF wonders if she has already got into the Twilight novels, though I suspect the answer is yes. He thinks that they will suit her very generic tastes and that the breathless tone will appeal to someone trying to hang on to her inner youth. He even provided me with some sample dialogue "I stared at his face. it was a testament to its incandescent beauty that it distracted my eyes from his muscled torso outlined by his cream wool turtle neck. I was lost". Hee!
Pochyemu (the woman whose husband wraps her presents in kitchen towel, and who got her a three headed pink sparkly Ann Summers vibrator last year) is also facing a challenge:
My dad: He doesn't drink, golf, hunt, ski, read books, watch much TV, go out, enjoy going out, have any grand desires to do anything new or, indeed, interesting. He's just nice and homely.
He does: do DIY (complete floor to ceiling restoration of their 20-something roomed house). Unfortunately, he has every book, gizmo or gadget for doing DIY-ey things.
If anyone can also suggest a gift for Rob the penis exhibitionist, mussel hospital crafting husband, that would be a bonus (though he has already bought his own Christmas present - 2 Aikido mats).
Well. The gmail oracle suggested a "Travelling desk". I don't even know what this is, but Pochyemu did, and said that her mother already had one. So that's out.
Soooo. Does he have a weed wand? It's like a blowtorch for the garden, and according to Violet, most satisfying. Or, Violet has also tried to make me buy a sort of bin shaped thing that you burn stuff in the garden in. This link shows you how to make one yourself with pictures culled from the nineteen fifties! Useful and hand-crafted. BMF comments: "some of my genuinely fondest memories feature a leaf burner".
Uh, given you haven't mentioned anything about him liking gardening OR fire, I am not sure where this came from. But, really, what's not to love.
Does he have one of those ridiculous little weather stations? The CFO loves his. He's always telling me meteorological factoids that are of absolutely no interest. It's currently in the crisper compartment of the fridge, checking whether conditions are optimal for hibernation.
Or possibly this hoof coat rack? You say he doesn't like hunting, but here all the hard work has been done for him. He can just get his power drill out, and hang it up. Marvellous.
Maybe you could get a divorce. I'm sure he'd love that (sorry Rob, you seem like a magnificent guy, but I can't imagine it's every father's dream for his princess to marry a man intent on showing his penis to the internets).
In a slightly different, but perhaps even more challenging vein, we have this plaintive little missive from Janet:
"I've got a mother-in-law of whom I'm very fond, however....she has returned (as far as I know) EVERY present anyone in her life has ever given her, including a bouquet of flowers sent by her own daughter. Yes, she returned flowers, saying they were two big for her table and ended up with a gift certificate to use later at the florist. She seems to view present-buying as an occasion to fill a need, for say, a new kitchen spatula, and not as a carefully chosen expression of love regardless of need. She even returned a gift card to her favorite department store that I gave her for her birthday, (me) thinking it the only safe option. I'm at a loss!"
Clearly Janet's mother-in-law needs something that's impossible to return. Not even perishables are safe from this woman's returnomania. The only answer, as I see it, is to make something. Don't be intimidated if you're not crafty, Janet. Remember the cardinal rule of Christmas craft - if at first you don't succeed, throw more glitter at it. A calendar with photos of her beloved son? A hand-carved spatula-tidy? An egg box crocodile?
BMF, ever with the sensible suggestions, thought a charity goat might be good. Or an animal adoption? We adopted the CFO a red river hog one year. It was the ugliest creature imaginable.
You couldn't return anything that ugly, could you? It would just be unconscionably cruel. Poor bearded pig.
We used to go to the zoo and shout at it in a proprietary fashion, and the CFO would try and hypnotise it by scratching behind its ears (he really can make pigs fall over by doing this - I will have to video him at work to prove it) until the keeper chased us away.
Ok, comments box, over to you. If you don't think I've quite nailed it, this is your chance.
Anyone who wishes to feature in next week's present clinic waffle mail me with details of your tricky customer.
And be good. St Nick is watching.