“Relations sparing no expense’ll, send some useless old utensil…”

Christmas approacheth, and the e-mails keep coming, as relentless as pistachio vendors in eighth-century Aleppo: Jeff, what should I get for the medievalist in my life?

Come on, people; shopping for medievalists is easy. Here are some suggestions for unusual presents that are bound to be more gratefully received than those Medieval Times gift certificates everyone got stuck with last year.

You can’t get the Lego Medieval Market Village (which includes, yes, a turkey) in time for Christmas, but it’s not too late to order the very strange 2008 Lego Castle Advent Calendar.

If your medievalist adores Byzantine church history, Got Medieval sells an awesome assortment of household doodads with primates on them.

Do your loved ones live where Beowulf and business markets intersect? Then hit them with gift subscriptions to The Wiglaf Journal, which “comes to the aid of today’s executives in vanquishing their challenges.”

If you own a business in the U.K., perplex your cringing minions with medieval team-building exercises, or smite them with your inflatable morningstar.

Let’s pretend this also doesn’t sound dirty: Set your mouth on fire with Dante’s Inferno Balls.

Medieval Icelanders deployed the term “downward-facing dog” with unseemly specificity. Nonetheless, a lesson in runic yoga will de-stress your workaholic Viking.

Let fly the yams! Defend your Christmas dinner with a tabletop trebuchet, and then lay siege to the sweet, spongy fortress you baked in your castle-shaped bundt pan.

If your kid’s reenactments of the Fourth Lateran Council with R2-D2 and Spider-Man on a dune buggy don’t feel sufficiently reverent, then you’re in luck: get thyself a Pope Innocent III action figure.

Grendel’s mom sez: “Preserve your child’s teeth and hair in a pewter castle-shaped reliquary—but catch the shrieks in a cup of gold.”

From the “Nightmares of Jennifer Lynn Jordan” Collection comes this enchanting clash of the titans: the Unicorn vs. Narwhal Playset. (My money’s on the narwhal. Nothing escapes its vengeful horn.)

Like mistletoe, chipmunks, and cranberry-lamprey casserole, Charlemagne is an essential part of any old-fashioned Christmas. So buy Matt Gabriele’s new book, The Legend of Charlemagne in the Middle Ages, or the new paperback edition of Charlemagne’s Mustache. If cerebral tabletop games are your thing, try the highly abstract Carolus Magnus. If you reek, de-stinkify thyself with Charlemagne Shower Gel.

Incubus wearing you out at night? Secure your bedchamber with a dragon-themed lock and key.

Place a tiara on the brow of the lady in your life. (Or the man. I’m not here to judge.)

Men and women of academia, I ask ye: of what use be tenure if it alloweth ye not to herald your arrival in the classroom?

This year, shop secure in the knowledge that the best medieval-themed gifts can avert the most awful of Christmas disasters. I can hear it now: “The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No lamprey! No lamprey sandwiches! No lamprey salad! No lamprey gravy! Lamprey hash! Lamprey à la king! Or gallons of lamprey soup! Gone, all gone!”

(And yes, if you do want to feast like a late medieval big-shot, there’s always tinned sea lamprey from Russia. You would even say it glows…)

5 thoughts on ““Relations sparing no expense’ll, send some useless old utensil…”

  1. I’m wondering if you can elaborate on what you find ‘very strange’ about the Lego Castle Advent Calendar? Lego has sold these for a few years, and Playmobil also has similar sets. Basically, the child opens one door a day for 24 days and finds one piece of the toy behind each door. At the end of the month, the child has a toy to play with and keep and has something new to look forward to each day. Certainly in my family we find the idea of a toy better than, say, a piece of candy each day……


  2. Anastisiav: Two things about that otherwise charming Lego set strike me as strange. First of all, Lego neglected to give this Advent calendar even the tiniest seasonal touch. However, they have included rare, collectible figures, which will surely entice the irreligious to buy a fairly expensive item they otherwise might have ignored. It’s as if Lego can’t decide if they’re selling a collectible to die-hard fans or a clever, annual item to the religious. Regardless, like your family, I’ll gladly take toys over candy.
    JLJ: Just watch out for land narwhals. They can smell an unfinished dissertation half a league away.
    Caroline: Merci. The first few months of this blog struck me as too serious; in recent months, it’s been too darned silly. I expect a surfeit of lampreys to balance my humours in the weeks ahead.


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