The thought of Christmas shopping at local malls fills me with dread. Nevertheless, it seems that I always spend at least one day of my life each year immersed in the perverse cultural phenomenon of modern-day Christmas shopping.
Last year Marlene and I went on a shopping “date” in late November. I even took a day off from work so we could do this special thing. We drove 40 miles to a popular shopping destination outside Syracuse, New York. First stop was a department store named Kohls, which I had never been to before. They were having a sale.
I dropped Marlene off at the front door, found a parking spot in the crowded lot, and walked into the brightly-lit store full of stuff and people. I stopped just inside the door, put on my openmouthed, wide-eyed Gomer Pyle face and looked around in mock wonderment. Marlene saw me from a rack of clothing she was rifling through. She rolled her eyes and smiled.
She will tell you I’m no fun to shop with. Big stores with lots of stuff are an insult to my anti-materialistic, anti-consumeristic, anti-modern sensibilities.
So I walked around that day in shock and awe, not shopping as much as observing and enduring. What I observed was so much soon-to-be junk and so many Moderns milling about and actually buying things. I was imagining how much of the store’s wares would, before long, be in a landfill or a garage sale.
If you go mall-shopping this year, look around and ask yourself how many if the items you see are really a necessity. Then imagine what each item will look like and where it will be in a year, or maybe two. It’s a sobering exercise.
Marlene and I slogged our way from store to store all day, occasionally buying something, and exhausting ourselves in the process. But it was not the kind of exhaustion you feel good about. If I split and stacked firewood all day, I’d be exhausted and it would be a good exhaustion. The same would be true if I worked in my garden all day, or my workshop. I’d be tired but I’d feel good about it. I’d sleep good too!
But shopping all day leaves me feeling lousy.
All of which brings me to an alternative; the simple and sensible antithesis to hectic store shopping... shopping from the comfort of your home, at your leisure, using the internet. Now there’s an example of putting modern technology to good use!
Aside from convenience, the internet offers a far, far larger selection of unnecessary things to buy. But we’re talking Christmas gifts here—such gifts don’t have to be absolutely necessary. Practical or uniquely special will suffice. Inspiring is good. And if the gift can be enjoyed for more than a few minutes or even a couple hours, that’s really good.
With that in mind, I’d like to suggest six uniquely special items that will make great Christmas gifts for you to give your family. This is The Deliberate Agrarian 2006 Christmas Gift Guide:
1. Sugar Creek Gang Audio Series
If you have boys to buy for (ages 8 to 12, or so) I strongly recommend volume one of the Sugar Creek Gang audio series. The stories are God-honoring, family-strengthening, and exciting. I have written about the audio tapes here. You can purchase them from Beloved Books.
My boys now have the entire tape series. They have actually listened to a couple of the tapes so often they've worn out (CDs are also available). Someday, Lord willing, I will buy these audio stories for my grandsons.
By the way, I put this gift guide selection first because this was one of the best Christmas gifts I ever gave my kids.
2. Dandelion Leek Miso
I learned about South River Dandelion Leek Miso from a woman who buys my homemade garlic powder. She adds the tiny, wholesome garlic granules to a cup of hot dandelion leek miso broth. She raved about the earthy combination so I bought the miso and it is something special. If you’re a miso enthusiast, you simply must experience this dandelion version. And if you’ve never tried miso before, this is the place to start. We really enjoy the drink around here during the cold winter months. (The 3-year barley miso is good too)
3. Herrick’s Homegrown Stiffneck Garlic Powder
You probably knew this was coming, didn’t you? A jar of Herrick’s Homegrown stiffneck garlic powder (grown and processed by yours truly) makes a unique little gift. Not only is my powder the perfect addition to a cup of dandelion leek miso, it is right at home, and particularly good, on hot buttered toast.
Gift jars of Herrick’s Homegrown garlic powder are $10.50 each. For no added cost, I’ll pack each jar in a gift box with an informational sheet telling all about the powder and what makes it is so special. The box makes it easy for you to wrap and give. Shipping is a flat rate of $5 for any size order. Send payment to: Herrick Kimball, PO Box 1117, Moravia, NY 13118
One more thing... my supply of garlic powder should hold out to the end of November, but not much more than that.
4. A Good Garden Hoe
Frankly, I can’t think of a better gift for any occasion than a good garden hoe. I’ve got a bunch of ‘em (an agrarian can never have too many garden hoes, you know.). One of my favorites, the one I reach for most often, is an Amish-made hoe that I bought from from Lehman’s Hardware.
5. Little House DVDs
My family owns a television set but it is rare that we ever watch any contemporary television programs. However, we do watch some movies and other tape or DVD programs. Two years ago, I bought the first season of Little House On The Prairie DVDs.
Little House on the Prairie featuring Michael Landon as Pa Ingalls is, in my opinion, one of best television programs ever produced. It focuses in a wonderfully pleasing way on family, community, the Christian faith, and agrarian life. Our whole family has enjoyed watching the DVD’s, and have done so many times.
After seeing how good the DVDs were and how well my kids enjoyed them, I bought a couple more seasons. This Christmas, I’ll buy another.
By the way, I have also bought season one of the Walton’s television program, which I recall watching and enjoying as a boy. I have to say the Little House programs are much more edifying and therefore better for children and families to watch.
6. Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian
Every Christmas gift guide must have a literary selection, and an agrarian gift guide should have an agrarian book. Well, what a coincidence— I just happen to have written one! :-)
My most recent book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian is all about faith, family, and livin’ the good life.
It is a unique book because it is the only book I know of on the subject of Christian agrarianism. Some think the book is too religious. Some think it’s not religious enough. Some think it’s not religious in the “right” way. Some just don’t know how to take it. But, near as I can tell, everyone who has read the book has enjoyed it (even the ones who disagree with some of what I say). You can read some reader comments here.
You can find out how to get a signed copy of the book here. If you would like to purchase the book in quantity (several people have done this for gift giving), I sell 5 copies for $45 (postage paid). My address is at the link I just gave.
So there you have it. Those are my suggestions for six unique, memorable, and relatively inexpensive Christmas gifts that will bring a lot of enjoyment into the lives of the persons you give them to. All but one (the Little House DVDs) are NOT going to be found in your local shopping mall. All can be purchased without any hassles from the comfort of your home. Now THAT’S the way to get your shopping done!
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