The Official 2007 InsideCatholic.com Christmas List

In case you have some last minute Christmas shopping to do, the InsideCatholic.com staff and writers put together our own list of recommended gifts. Enjoy!

 
In case you have some last minute Christmas shopping to do, and you’re out of ideas, the InsideCatholic.com staff, writers and columnists have put together our own list of favorite gifts.
 
Have a look, and should you take us up on a recommendation, let us know!
 
And above all, have a blessed Advent Season and a Merry Christmas.
 
♦ ♦ ♦
 
 
There is a difference between a "Christmas Shopping Guide" and a "Short List of What to Read for Christmas." It is said that one can "recommend" his own books! What else? My memory is hazy, but Scott Walter once told me that Belloc, in his old age, was supposed to have read nothing but "Wodehouse, the Diary of a Nobody, and his own works."Of my own works, I have a few of late that I am glad are out, to wit: On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs, Sum Total of Human Happiness, and The Order of Things.
 
My friend Jim Campbell recently asked me if I wanted anything from London. I said, "Find me a copy of Belloc’s Towns of Destiny," a 1927 book. And he found a very handsome edition. It is almost painfully beautiful. I think that Christmas reading and giving of books should not be in the ordinary line of what are called "best-sellers." Rarely are best sellers worth too much effort.
 
Most of the world’s wisdom is found in things that did not currently sell very well. There are exceptions. This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. It is the greatest book of the last hundred years. No one should be without a copy. No one will read it and not be delighted.
 
I read Peter Kreeft’s The Philosophy of Jesus, which I much enjoyed.
 
The pope’s Jesus of Nazareth is something of an event.
 
I am still amused, from several years ago, at having read, while at my brother’s for Christmas, Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. Needless to say, my brother had great fun explaining to his friends that his brother spent Christmas reading a book called The Idiot. But of course, it is a great book.
 
Finally, I had mentioned in an InsideCatholic.com interview that I had somehow lost my copy of Robert Short’s The Gospel According to Peanuts. When one arrived unexpectedly in the mail from a generous reader, I was most pleased. This book is well worth reading at Christmas. It contains no Christmas sequences, but it does have two Great Pumpkin ones. It’s the Great Pumpkin is, after all, a Christmas story. Linus insists on believing that the Great Pumpkin will come no matter what. He is not exactly a fideist. But one suspects that if we do not believe it will come, we will likely never see it when it does.
 
 
 
Mark Nason Boots and Shoes
Hip, comfortable, Italian hand-crafted, and ultra cool. Nason makes distinctive footwear inspired by Rock & Roll. They travel well and can be understated or statement-making. If I had the closet space I would own them all.
 
Running V-Twin Paper Model
Canadian designer Yee’s Job creates amazing origami and paper models. His V-8 engine paper model is touted as the most sophisticated paper model in the world. This Harley-Davidson engine model is complex and satisfying to complete. It beats the pants off any mamby-pamby crossword or Sudoku puzzle.
 
Violet Nabaztag Wi-Fi Rabbit
Billed as a stepping-stone to AI, this little rabbit device hooks to the Internet and broadcasts the weather, news, email, SMSs . . . whatever. Looks like a toy, but is really an interesting tool to leverage information. Plus, it’s cool.
 
The Liturgy of the Hours
Why not start the New Year with praying the Hours? If you’re like me, you get tired of all the little prayer books, pamphlets, and guides. Go "old school" and enhance your spiritual life with the four volume set. Prayer, Psalms, hymns, history . . . what more can a Catholic want?
 
 
 
Romano Guardini, The Lord
I tell people, only half-jocularly, that this is the best book written since the Bible. Brief chapters — but mercifully so, since each chapter is so rich that a reader cannot sustain more. I read it more or less perpetually.
 
Dietrich von Hildebrand, Liturgy and Personality
A small book, whose thesis is that the liturgy itself is the paradigm of the healthy, holy man. Read it and be amazed.
 
Karl Adam, The Spirit of Catholicism
This is by far the best book I myself have ever read on the topic of Catholicism. If that sounds obvious, or platitudinous, then one needs to read Adam’s book. It is fathomlessly splendid — not triumphalist, but splendid.
{mospagebreak}
 
 
The Tripods Attack!, John McNichol
The first volume of "The Young Chesterton Chronicles," featuring a 16-year-old GK and his adventures in an alternative Edwardian-era world. Aimed at teens to adults, it mixes imaginative storytelling and artfully integrated (rather than blatantly tacked-on) religious and moral content. (Note: this will have to be a belated Christmas present, as the book is scheduled to come out in January, from Sophia Institute Press.)
 
? ("The Question Mark Album"), Neal Morse
Recommended with a slight reservation: Since his conversion to Christianity in 2001 and subsequent departure from prog-rock band Spock’s Beard, Morse’s theology has gotten a tad eccentric. But that’s not evident in ?, a masterpiece of diverse musical styles that explores the mystery of God’s presence in divine revelation: from the Ark of the Covenant to the Incarnation to the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the faithful.
 
Panasonic Linear Shaver
I’m a confirmed wet/dry electric man, and nobody makes better ones than Panasonic. If you really want to splurge on the shaver (or technophile) in your life, get him the Arc IV Nano: epilatory nirvana.
 
Sun Mountain Speedcart V2
Golf is a walking game. But it doesn’t have to be a carrying game. Enter the push cart, and the V2, which improves on Sun Mountain’s original Speedcart in most every way (no easy feat) to claim best-in-class status. And it’s built to last, with tons of add-on accessories to buy in Christmases future.
 
 
 
A book: Reunion, Fred Uhlman
This is a small book about friendship that I will never forget reading. Arthur Koestler writes in the introduction: "Hundreds of bulky tomes have now been written about the age when corpses were melted into soap to keep the master race clean; yet I sincerely believe that this slim volume will find its lasting place on the shelves."
 
A movie: Foyle’s War, starring Michael Kitchen
This is now a five-part series with one more being filmed for 2008. I often find the typical English mini-series a bit boring, but Foyle’s War is delightful from beginning to end. Kitchen plays an English policeman — Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle — assigned to a small coastal village during World War II. Created and written by Anthony Horowitz, Foyle’s War combines mystery stories with moral tales. The character of Foyle is intriguing — part Stoic, part loving father, part Sherlock Holmes, part patriot, and part grieving widower. This is the most entertaining television I’ve seen in years, many years.

Some music: Barber, Korngold, Walton: Violin Concertos
My two favorite 20th-century violin concertos on one CD! Beautifully played and recorded. This is for the person who thinks he or she doesn’t "like" classical music. Erich Wolfgang Korngold was an Austrian who came to Hollywood in the 1930s and became the leading film composer (Spellbound, Adventures of Robin Hood, Deception). Samuel Barber, from Philadelphia, was the great American proponent of late romantic, tonal music at a time when the music establishment was losing itself in modernist abstractions. The slow movements are among the most beautiful music you will ever hear.
 
A poem: Dylan Thomas, "A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Five Poems"
For anyone who wants to reconnect with the power of language and the joy of poetic speech, then Dylan Thomas’s reading of his homage to "A Child’s Christmas in Wales" is the place to go. His Welsh voice was like no one else’s — it belongs to the horn section of an orchestra. His reading takes you back to the time when all literature was recited rather than read, when poets were bards. Thomas, the bard, shows how poetry — in fact, all of literature — can be an event as exciting as film or music.
 
Some coffee: Mystic Monks Coffee
Some months ago I wrote a Window about the Carmelite monks who live in northeastern Wyoming, "The Last Carmelite Monks in America?" I was told that this Window stimulated their coffee business quite a bit, and I was told by Window readers themselves that the coffee was uniformly excellent. Who better to get your Christmas gift dollars than these monks, who are trying to raise money for the larger quarters they desperately need?
 
 
 
Here’s what I would consider a perfect Christmas gift from my husband:
 
One copy of George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic
 
 
A box of chocolate caramels from the Sisters at Mississippi Abbey
 
A Tree Agate or Autumn Jasper Rosary bracelet from St. Hubert’s Rosary Bracelets
 
One gift certificate for manicure/pedicure (I recently advised a husband who wandered into California Nails for such a certificate for his wife’s birthday and was painfully clueless how much to spend. I pointed out that a manicure/pedicure — which borders on divine for most women — costs $50 at that salon, including tip. He was pleasantly surprised at the affordability. Go to a local nail salon, not a fancy hotel or spa.)
 
 
 
For the tea drinker: Georgia Peach Red Rooibos Tea, Almond Cookie Green Tea
In Florence, Kentucky, there’s a small tea house and café with the best loose-leaf tea I’ve ever had. The two listed are a couple of my favorites. Rooibos makes great ice tea and the Almond Cookie has none of the bitterness of green tea — it doesn’t even need sweetener. Here’s a link for contact information.
 
For the chocoholic: Handmade Chocolates
Once you’ve tasted really good chocolate, there’s no going back. These two artisanal chocolatiers based in Baltimore are worth checking out. The first is Glarus Chocolatier, recently opened by a young couple who want to keep alive the Swiss chocolate-making tradition of their heritage. It’s delicious stuff. If, instead, you believe the French do it better, then try Cocao Lorenzo. My non-chocolate-eating husband ate at least half the assorted box of chocolates I brought home one day.
 
For the nature lover: Canadian Pine & White Sage Shower Gel
This is the greatest shower gel known to man. Made without synthetic preservatives, sulfates, or detergents, this luxurious soap has the ability to transport you to another place . . . namely, a Canadian pine forest! Seriously, this shower gel suits both men and women who enjoy natural scents. Also, the company — Pangea Organics — is impressive for its commitment to healthy, responsible products and fair business practices.
 
For the children: The Night of Las Posada by Tomie dePaola
Few children’s books focus on the old Spanish custom of the Las Posada procession. This beautiful offering by dePaola tells the story of a modern day couple in Santa Fe who are selected to play Mary and Joseph in the village Christmas pageant. Things don’t go as planned; surprises abound. Great for children ages 4 to 8.
 
For the person who has everything: A Gift of Hope
"Teach a man to fish" has been Heifer International‘s philosophy for almost 60 years. Through Heifer, you can buy (or purchase a share of) livestock to give to a poor family in any corner of the globe. I have done this in the name of my Godchildren in the past, and it’s very rewarding. Animals like pigs, sheep, flocks of geese, chicks, goats, buffalo, and — of course — heifers, can bring hope to many people who are trying to build lives of dignity.
{mospagebreak}
 
Christina Jopson (Associate editor)
 
O Magnum Mysterium and Requiem, Tomas Luis de Victoria, both by the Westminster Cathedral Choir under David Hill.
This is truly glorious, sacred polyphony. O Magnum Mysterium was sung at our Nuptial Mass by my husband’s aunt’s choir. While it’s best to hear this music in a sacred setting, until our home parish has a choir ready to tackle this ancient style, a recording by the Westminster Cathedral Choir to listen to at home is a tolerable compromise. I hope at least one CD arrives in my Christmas stocking.
 
Mad Gab
This is my other wishlist item — a game of deciphering common names and phrases from small words put together with no apparent relation. The game depends not on what you say, but what you hear, and two teams race to guess the most phrases. An example: Dew Wino Hue. If you slur the words together, you actually get the answer (Do I know you?). Or "Eye Mull of Mush Sheen" (I’ll let you figure that one out on your own). It’s fun and challenging . . . and often baffling to an English major like me.
 
 
 
The top item on my Christmas list is the remastered version of The Joshua Tree.
 
Yes, I want to listen to digitally remastered versions of "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For," "Exit," and "In God’s Country." But I also want to listen to the B-sides and outtakes: "Spanish Eyes," "The Sweetest Thing," and "Into the Heart."
 
My friend Matt Powers graciously made me a mixed tape of those B-sides in college, but that was in 1990. It’s time for the sounds of arguably the greatest album of the 1980s to reverberate in my home anew.
 
 
 
L.A. Burdick offers a wide variety of handmade, gourmet chocolates that would please any chocolate lover on your list, but they make one treat in particular that you won’t find anywhere else: chocolate mice and penguins. Made in an old European chocolatier tradition, where leftover pieces of chocolate were used to create figurines for children, you really have to see these little critters to understand how perfect they are as Christmas gifts — unique and whimsical, and oh-so tasty. Definitely not your usual Whitman’s Sampler.
 
 
This is something on my Christmas wish list this year. Winik is the author of April 1865, one of the best Civil War histories I have read, so naturally I was excited to see him release another work. Here he outlines the trials of the early years of the American Republic, but places that story in a larger narrative of revolutionary change around the world — in France, Russia, and beyond. Reconciling all these histories into one cohesive arc about the dawn of our modern age is no small task, but I have no doubt that if anyone could pull it off convincingly, it’s Winik. Perfect for that history buff who wants to move beyond the standard blow-by-blow of the founding of our nation.
 
I’m constantly jotting down lists, names, addresses, things to do, things to read, things I heard on the radio — it never ends. Fortunately, these little Moleskine notebooks are the perfect thing for containing all my random notes and helping me stay at least semi-organized. They come in a wide range of hardcover and softcover notebooks, sketchbooks, date books, address books, travel journals — even books with staff lines for musicians. My journal of choice is the pocket sketchbook, a perfectly sized hardcover book complete with page marker and elastic-band closure; functional and beautiful, it makes writing in it a pleasure. Moleskine has been designing notebooks and journals used by the likes of Van Gogh and Hemingway for over two centuries, so you can feel like you’re doodling and jotting in good company.
 
 
Hasbro FurReal Friends Squawkers McCaw Parrot. I kept passing this thing at Target and it kept talking to me — I finally realized, it was just what my dad would love.

I’m giving this to a lot of older adults I know: Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, and this to younger adults: Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To. And lots of people are getting these delicious candies.

 
I’m afraid that I thought about this the other day, and could not come up with anything remotely plausible. I mean, I gather the yacht "Senses" is back on the market, but the pricetag would be over $30 million, and besides, the upkeep would be a little more than I could handle.

Join the conversation in our Telegram Chat! You can also find us on Facebook, MeWe, Twitter, and Gab.

MENU