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Ask Anyone

wish list

Well, I’ve done it again. A mere few days before Christmas and I haven’t bought a single present. This year I was especially attentive to what the special people in my life might like to receive as gifts. I even wrote a list. But then, shortly after Thanksgiving, I learned (through dropping hints) that each and every one of them had either already obtained the items on my list, or somehow no longer needed the items I’d chosen to buy for them. Now, I’m at a total loss.

I’m still brainstorming night and day, but as a back-up, can you experts suggest presents that anyone and everyone might enjoy?

Disgruntled Elf

The Shutterbug says: Hightail it to the grocery and/or liquor store! Anyone would be happy to be on the receiving end of a classy bottle of wine, liquor, or a tasty hot chocolate mix. If all else fails turn to the universal gift, a cheese basket. Pack it with sharp and soft cheeses, unique crackers, oranges and grapes, and throw a few holiday cookies in for good measure. And pick up one for me while you’re there. Extra cheese, please.

Smart Money says: Booze! There is no better gift.

The Practical Cogitator says: Buy them an outing. An outing with you. For the young ones, you could buy a movie card to Dipson (a locally owned theater chain) and promise to take them out to the movies. Another idea is to take the kiddos skating. There is a free rink at Key Center. You could even go skating after the movie! For the older folks on your list, I suggest a beverage. Buy a nice bottle of wine (or their favorite beverage) and then drop over to their house and drink it with them. Even though people are busy this time of year, everyone needs to slow down and re-connect, and what better way than over a bottle of vino! Another idea is to take everyone skiing. All the resorts offer lessons and rent skis for the non-skier, and those that can ski will be thrilled. The whole family will remember the ski-day trip fondly.

The Straight Skinny: Wool socks. The expensive kind at Buffalo Fleece, the ones whose price tag gives you a little heart arrhythmia. Because they are sensible and luxurious and you would like to inspire them to give you a pair next year.

auld lang syne

This New Year’s Eve, my new girlfriend and I have been invited to a party with mutual friends. I’ve just come to learn that her ex-husband will also be attending. We’ve only been going out a few months, and I was looking forward to a fun night marking new starts. Now, I feel like those hopes are considerably dampened. I’m not totally insecure, but this guy really screwed her up and she still has these confused feelings for him. I think he’s a jerk.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” I say yes, in this case. But what is the alternative? If we don’t attend, it’s like we’ve forsaken mutual friends to avoid her ex. That’s not cool, either.

What do you say we do, experts?

—The New Flame

The Practical Cogitator says: You could offer her an alternate plan. Dinner and drinks somewhere nice with you. Then head down to First Night and watch the ball drop from the Electric Tower. Enjoy the bands and the entertainment. Or head over to the Ice Ball at the newly renovated Statler. New year—new start, and all that. Going out on a date with your new girlfriend is not “forsaking” your friends at all. You could (and should) ask her what she would rather do. Perhaps you can do it all! Breeze through the party for a little while and then head out on the town with your girl. Show her a great time and get her mind (and yours) off the ex.

The Straight Skinny: I think a lot here depends on you looking better than the ex. I would start by getting a tuxedo, or pressing yours, and then swanning through the party en route to somewhere more fun and more awesome. Even if in fact all you are going to do is go get a pizza and snuggle up with your girlfriend and congratulate yourselves on having one-upped him.

Ask Anyone is local advice for locals with problems. Send your questions for our panel of experts to

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