The Deliberate Agrarian Christmas Gift Guide

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!


Carla Lynne Klimuk said...

We don't do Christmas shopping, Herrick. It literally goes against everything we stand for...

If gifts are exchanged, they are homemade. Because we are Messianic Jews, our holiday seasons are more in tune with feasts and festivals (Thanksgiving is more like Sukkot; no Easter- instead it is Passover, etc...) and we celebrate more about the 'light of the world' (Hanukkah) and keep more to a Biblical feast/festival then a commercial Christmas. We do decorate a tree~ but one we can replant. That is the evangelical ecologist in me... :-)

It is amazing to me after fourteen years of only celebrating the Biblical feasts and festivals how far this country has gone off the deep end in commercialism and what I think even more- hedonism. I agree with you that most of those items on the shelves now, will end up in the trash and landfills, but even more importantly to our family, they are imported from countries (namely China) where our brothers and sisters in Christ are persecuted and forced to make those 'things' we take so lightly and for granted.

I counsel my clients to begin drinking miso as regular drink immediately. The health benefits are extraordinary for detoxification, and as a blood and cell building tonic. Not to mention the digestive action and benefits... South River is one of the best ones around...

Anonymous said...

I can highly recommend Herricks Garlic Powder. The best on the planet, period, end of discussion.

Patti said...

Would love to hear your wife's take on the shopping day :):)

Old Hound said...

I understand. I have come to detest the modern hobby of "shopping". 7 tenths of whats in your typical mall is't really worth the expense to own anyway. Apparently, shopping fever is nothing new. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was often fustrated by his wife overspending on luxery items. We now have an abundance of material things that Lincoln couldn't imagine. And we still can't say no to it enough. When my wife and i need something, we often shop secondhand or flea markets. And we are VERY selective. No Junk. Now if people would give more love and friendship, and spend less money on things, Christmas might more like the first one was. Gifts are nice, but Americans spend TOO much on them. Corporations love us. They have made the holiday into Christmas,Inc.

Anonymous said...

Wow! My husband had the day off yesterday and we went to Home Depot looking for curtain hardware and rods that we've needed for about a year now. Then we went to another store and by the time we were done with the two stores we were disgusted. They had a lot of "nothing" and nothing we actually *needed* or were looking for.

I think the garlic powder is a *great* idea for a gift.

I am going to look for a link to email you I wanted to give you a little tidbit of info. that might possibly help you.


Anonymous said...

Oops...that was me...Kristianna.

Anonymous said...

Audio adventures for younger kids! For three to seven year olds there is a new audio adventures series out: Billy Brown! Audio adventure as in radio drama on CD for kids.
Billy Brown is a big, friendly, talking bear and finds himself and his friend Emma in all kinds of adventures.

Check it out:

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Carla Lynne--
You make some good points and you are an inspiration to me!

Thank you. I appreciate the endorsement.

Hi Patti--
Suffice it to say that Marlene would tell you that I am no fun to shop with. ;-)

Old Hound--
Well said! Speaking of Mary Todd Lincoln, she had other "issues." After her husband was killed, she came to Moravia, NY (where I live) and met with some spiritualists in an effort to communicate with him. This area was a hotbed of occultic spiritualism at that time and is, I believe, still under a spiritual curse as a result.

Hi Kristianna--
Thank you. I welcome tidbits of info. though my e-mail service has not been working like it should lately:

Okay. My only thought would be: Is Billy Brown, the big, friendly, talking bear a Christian agrarian?

Anonymous said...

hi, loved the article, but I have never heard of a cord of wood for 35 to 45 dollars, usually everyone else that has to order, will pay between 200 to 250 dollars for a cord of wood. I live in coxsackie , ny and thats the going rate. It will take around 6 cords to heat through the winter. It is cheaper than oil, gas, pellets, but that will soon change, as woodstoves are being sold in record numbers and the fuel is being sought after. Anyway, enjoyed the info, I have decided , I am going to make my own kitchen cabinets, with the help of your info.