masty yuletide long 2Another Christmas, another dilemma! What to give friends and distant relatives when money is tight? How to give a gift without unnecessary commercialism; or without it escalating into undesired mandatory reciprocity? Fear not, and give the gift of ideas.

The following websites are packed with ideas to be welcomed by any Imaginative Conservative or a loved one with the propensity. They are refreshed often, guaranteeing a bounty of wit and wisdom the whole year through. If the merit of your gift is determined by its price-tag, better go elsewhere; but many recipients will be delighted by your thoughtfulness, by being freed from buying you a scarf or necktie in return, and by the merriment and wisdom in the gift itself. Here are four almost certain to cheer a kindred spirit.

Whether one’s motive is curiosity, literary knowledge or something more fiendishly base, the Quote Investigator never disappoints. Did William Shakespeare really originate the quip “I’ll never join a club that takes me as a member?” Or was it Groucho, or indeed someone else? From Tom Eliot, to Tom Aquinas, to (maybe) Tommy James & the Shondells, the authors have an uncanny ability to spot who originated a quote, who repeated it accidentally, and who purloined it for the credit. Many hours of fascination await. Then bask in new knowledge, or share it with friends, or (not wholly recommended, at least at Christmastime) lord it over lesser mortals: “Well yes, (ahem) technically, Barbra Streisand did say it, but she (ahem) inadvertently borrowed it from Martha Washington who swiped it from Saint Matthew’s Gospel.” Become a better person and have fun doing it.

masty yuletide 1A repeat from last year, because it is now even more timely and essential, Conflicts Forum is tantamount to having your own James Bond giving you frequent strategic updates from the Middle East. I have known former MI6 officer Alistair Crooke since the Afghan-Soviet War in the 1980s, and he is the real deal; as experienced, well-connected, street-smart and wise as they get. Want to know why ISIS beheadings hope to lure America into another unwinnable war? Or why Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States seem asleep at the switch? Let Queen Elizabeth’s former man in the Middle East tell you truths you will never hear from the usual media.

For political insights and sheer merriment, take two big gulps of Delingpole at least twice a week. British polemicist and investigative columnist James Delingpole broke many hearts when he deserted his blog at The Daily Telegraph, where his every post attracted thousands of fan letters online. But now he is better paid and just as easy to find at a news service website. He is a terrier on the heels of the Eurocrats, a bulldog after bad science and “global warmists” and a whole pack of wolves against wind-power and the rich poltroons profiteering. He is good on other topics too, never minces his words, and is so gloriously outspoken, and politically incorrect, that doctors say weekly doses of Delingpole can add years to your life. Admit it, when was the last time that your morning reading left you screeching with delight?

Fourthly, do all of your friends and family read The Imaginative Conservative? Sure you do, but you are not the problem here. Does Sally, your clever niece, know the first thing about Christopher Dawson or Russell Kirk? Can your little son, Algernon, defend himself against intellectual bullies in the schoolyard? Could Great-Aunt Maude benefit from knowing that all is not lost? Might the Reverend Jane and Father Paul relish a daily dose of the Good, the True and the Beautiful? Go on! Email a link and make them, and you, and all of us just a little wiser and stronger!

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

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