Imaginative conservatives read, pray, honor the past, build family memories, and do everything with wit, style and elegance. The gifts below have been lovingly picked for the entire family with that in mind.
The perfect gift: Leather-bound books from Easton Press, with gold-leaf edges on the pages. They offer a complete set of the works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, art books on ancient Greece and the Renaissance, Canterbury Tales, a Bible illustrated with Rembrandt masterpieces, and now Love is the Explanation of Everything, 365 meditations from John Paul II, illustrated with classical religious paintings.
Add a touch of stained glass to your windows or doors. Russell Kirk’s dining room has two magnificent alcoves with stained glass rescued from a neighboring church that was modernized.
A luxurious Pashima shawl, for tossing over a blazer, a dress, or almost anything, in a striking color like teal, claret, winter coral, hot pink, or juniper.
An impeccably made Saville handbag would be a tasteful addition to her accessories.
Let the lady in your life write in style, with floral Cloisonné pens. I already gifted a set of these and wish I had ordered more for other friends (and myself.)
James Avery designs lovely Christian jewelry, including crosses on chains or collars, with matching earrings and bracelets, in silver or gold. I have given sets to my daughter, sister, Goddaughters, and friends, much to their delight.
Russell Kirk met Henry Ford and led visitors through Greenfield Village as a young man. This Model T cap in brown tweed has fold-down earflaps to warm your ears in a vintage convertible. Henry Ford’s father and mother emigrated from Cork, Ireland, where this cap originated.
Or for those willing to look a bit more Merchant Ivory, why not a velvet squire’s jacket in burgundy or black ?
The gentleman looks dashing in a double-breasted camel blazer with an ivory, silk twill aviator’s scarf and capeskin driving gloves. Silk pocket squares are essential, while bow ties look quite dashing in paisley silk or orange cashmere. And what man wouldn’t want an English style trench coat that stepped right out of Casablanca?
Other necessities for the imaginative conservative gentleman: a blackthorn walking stick with pistol-grip handle. A vintage 1935 design watch to be worn and passed down to a son. And finally, a set of Irish pipes, selected from antique collection dating back to 1865. Albert Einstein once said, “A great pipe contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.”
Make a memory with your children building a Gingerbread House with them. Buy extra candy so you can nibble together as you build it. I started building these with my children almost twenty years ago, and have become the Gingerbread Queen, continuing the tradition with Godchildren, mentees and their classmates, and will build the first with my 3-year-old grandson this year. The version that is easiest to build has a base into which you insert the walls with frosting. Price: a mere $10. Value: incalculable.
Read together. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a delightfully whimsical tale for book lovers and children we hope will come to love books. The Academy-award-winning short film version of the story that preceded the release of this book captivated me when I first saw it a few months ago. (Robert Woods already recommended this on the TIC site, but I mention it again with my own enthusiastic endorsement.)
Angel in the Waters is a lovely story that gently acquaints children with the life a baby swimming in his mother’s womb, conversing with the angel there as he approaches birth.
Go fly a kite – one modeled after the design of the Wright brothers’ first plane, which hangs in the Smithsonian. This is big enough to demonstrate real aerodynamics–- 24” high and 46” wide –and comes with a carrying case.
To foster the imagination, give small children mugs with hidden animals. Toddlers giggle when they discover a squirrel, rabbit or fox crouched at the bottom of their mug.
Catholic parents and Godparents will love the “Holy Baby!” DVD, which teaches little children prayers in seven languages. English, Spanish, French, Latin, Vietnamese, German, and Portuguese. Children learn the seven prayers of the Rosary: the Sign of the Cross, Apostle’s Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, O My Jesus and Hail Holy Queen. The bobble-head figures and the baby in a nun’s habit are somewhat off-putting, but this is a great way for young children to learn these prayers while also experiencing foreign languages by imitating them.
And in the midst of Christmas preparations, pray every single day. I have to keep reminding myself that although the secular hubbub around this holiday is obnoxious, celebrating the incarnation of Christ is a wondrous event worthy of quiet awe and gratitude.Support poor villagers in Thailand by buying their whimsical hand-made tree decorations, including angels, fairies, Noah’s ark, rising stars, violins, peacocks, and the tree of life. Or if you are feeling poor yourself, buy some wire and beads and use their inspiration to make your own decorations with your children.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.