If you are anything like me, right about now you’re making a list and checking it twice and realizing that you have way too many Christmas gifts left to buy. Some of this has to do with very hard-to-buy-for loved ones. (You know who you are.) But more of it has to do with the fact that I hate shopping malls, hate shopping in general, to be honest. If I could get everything at our local bookstore, and, believe me, I’ve tried, I would do it in a heartbeat. But it would look a little odd if I gave every person a book, and beyond that we’re talking about wind chimes, recycled stationery and some other cool but not-for-grandma kinds of gifts.
So…We need to get creative, right? Well, the good news is that I’ve got some alternative gift ideas that will not require you to leave home. In fact, you don’t have to leave the chair you’re in right now. How’s that for easy? And the gifts are better than anything you’ll find at some lame-o super store.
For the coffee lover, head over to Mystic Monk Coffee. As you NSS regulars know, this is a favorite of mine. They have sampler sets and value packs, mugs and sweatshirts. And there’s a blend for every coffee lover on your list — from the “light-bodied” Breakfast Blend for the coffee wimps, er, I mean, light-weights, um, never mind, to the Midnight Vigils Blend. If it can keep the Carmelite Monks of northern Wyoming awake for prayers in the middle of the night, it should keep you awake for the drive to work.
And then, of course, there are the Trappists. Yet another favorite of mine. You can go for the Trappist cheese (made by the monks of Gethsemani) or Trappist preserves (made by the monks at Spencer) or for any number of Trappist food items (like fudge) dipped and soaked and rolled in bourbon.
Close to my neck of the woods geographically but ever so slightly over the border theologically are the Orthodox Nuns of New Skete, who make kickin’ cheesecake in oh so many flavors — amaretto, chocolate, chocolate amaretto. You get the idea.
If you’d like something other than food, try the soaps and lotions made by the contemplative Dominican Nuns of Summit, N.J. They also sell Dominican books and medals, if you are so inclined.
If you’re looking for something religious but you’re not quite sure what, head to Monastery Greetings, where you’ll find everything from the coffee and preserves mentioned above to prayer shawls, wind chimes, books, cds, incense and lots more.
Christmas shopping shouldn’t be about checking off names on a list in record time. It should be about finding the perfect gift for someone special. Forget what all the sales flyers and commercials are telling you, and get something different and fun and meaningful. And if you can do it without fighting someone for a parking space, even better. Happy shopping.