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Ask Mary Xmas: An Advice Column For The Season

Ask Mary Xmas

An Advice Column For The Season

Stressing over what to buy, make or send your loved ones this Christmas? Who to invite for Christmas Dinner? Where to go for your holidays? Relax!! Ask Mary Xmas in our new weekly column!! Send email to

Dear Mary
I’m depressed. My kids’ve been hassling me for months about getting them a computer and I promised Santa would deliver, but I just got sacked because I forgot how to do my job properly, so we’re not gonna have much money. Besides, I’m a techno-idiot, so I’m worried about what they might get up to on the internet. Is there a cheap computer anywhere that can be really easily controlled by someone as dumb as me?
Doleful Dad, Rotorua

Dear Doleful Dad
Don’t get down – get along to the police auction, where they dispose of stolen goods at no reserve. There were plenty of computers in their latest haul, and you’re guaranteed that the combined intelligence of several countries at least will be keeping close tabs on their every keystroke.


Dear Mary
This year is our first Christmas alone since the last of the kids left home. Hubby and I decided to go tramping together to “get away from it all.” As we’re getting on in years we can’t carry much, and it’ll also be our first time alone in the bush. For his Xmas present, I can’t decide between buying him a Swiss Army Knife, which is nice and small and could be very handy for all sorts of things, or a map, which is lighter and might also save our lives if we get lost. Which would you suggest?
Worried Wife on the Way to Waikaremoana

Dear Worried Wife
It’s perfectly obvious! Forget the map – you won’t need it! Just buy the knife and flash it around a lot, especially when talking about politics or politicians. Although you may feel as if you are alone, your presents will be attracting plenty of attention, so you can count on an escort turning up eventually, wherever you may lose or find yourself.


Dear Mary
My girlfriend and I always go away for a few days together after Christmas. Because we both read a lot we give each other books for Xmas to take along, but where I prefer post-modern fiction, she is a history nut. Every year she complains about the book I gave her, and nags me the whole time so I can’t even enjoy my book, which of course is always the perfect choice. So this year I want to totally surprise her. Any ideas?
Jack-in-the-Box, Titahi Bay.

Dear Jack
You could go for a relatively boring bestseller, like the Pictorial History of World War II, but if she’s into New Zealand history perhaps you should try to find a rare edition, like Pat Hohepa’s work on Maori land laws. You might have to search a bit harder for this, but the rewards are sure to be greater than the effort. You could always try Trade Me - who knows, you may even hit the jackpot, and win her a bonus week at Arohata Spa. At least that way you’ll get to read YOUR book in peace...


Dear Mary,
My seven year old grand-daughter is a fanatic follower of fashion. She’s had a hard time lately – her favourite tshirt was ripped off her back and taken away by a violent stranger. Some distant relatives have invited her for a skiing holiday to help her get over it, and she wants me to knit her a nice warm balaclava to take with her, but in the same camouflage pattern as the tshirt was. I feel this might remind her too much of the trauma. What other colour or pattern could I knit that would be just as fashionable this year?
Granny, Ruatoki

Dear Granny
Green is definitely out – she might be mistaken for the IRA, or an environmentalist. Avoid red - definitely a commie colour, so is pink. Yellow could definitely be perilous, and anything with checks risks her being considered a thinly-disguised suicide-bomber. Black has too-obvious links to the peaceful Zapatistas, and along with brown, is best kept for shirts these days. Whilst lavender seems okay at first glance, she is a girl after all and lavender was the colour favoured by well-known femino-terrorist Kate Sheppard, so is perhaps better avoided. Blue could see her arrested for impersonating an armed offenders’ squad member, which really only leaves white. Although this may appeal, given her age and circumstances, it is also the colour of the feather at Parihaka.....So terrorbly sorry I can’t help, Granny, I think we might have to throw this one over to our readers.


Dear Mary
My aunty really likes the Royal Family, and she just LOVES reading New Zealand Woman’s Day. Me and my cousins were going to put all our pocket money together and buy her a year’s subscription for Xmas. Is that a good idea?
Wondering, Aro Valley.

Dear Wondering
It depends on where you and your cousins plan on spending Christmas. I suggest you look at pages 6-7 of the October 29, 2007 issue (see below) before financing a terrorist publication. A word of warning – do NOT try to imitate this at home, even under parental supervision...unless your father happens to be Roy, Al, or the New Zealand Prime Minister, who now decides who can and can’t play this game.


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