Thanksgiving is always a good time to distance oneself from politics, and focus on closer-to-home things like enjoying time with family and planning for the end of the year. I usually take the week off from writing a particularly substantive column, and instead put together a lighter, more personal piece. So here it goes…
This year, as my wife and I have been working on Christmas gift ideas for our children and each other, it got me thinking about some of better gifts I’ve received and purchases I’ve made in recent years. It occurred to me that some my fellow conservatives might also enjoy a few of them, so I decided to throw together a list of gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season.
Hopefully, my readers will find these suggestions useful. If not, there’s always Trumpy Bear:
Let’s get started…
While the top-selling political books of the past couple years have been almost entirely Trump-centric and unabashedly partisan, the most philosophically and culturally significant contribution to this genre covers a much broader spectrum. Suicide of the West is an absolutely brilliant read, in which author Jonah Goldberg examines the miraculous societal advances that have taken place over a relatively short time in world history, and how they are in danger with the resurgence of tribalism and the erosion of our institutions.
This work would make a great gift for those (on both sides of the aisle) who are interested in a real debate about American’s future and the preservation and promotion of the values that have advanced Western society.
When it comes to pop-culture, I fail several conservative litmus tests. A few examples: I don’t like Country music, I’ve never thought Norm Macdonald was particularly funny (though he seems like a good guy), I find NASCAR thoroughly boring, and I really didn’t like the television show, Justified.
But there is one area in which I’m very much in alignment with my fellow righties: I love John Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing, and view it as one of the all-time SciFi/Horror greats. A true classic.
I’m also an art fan, so I absolutely loved receiving this unique gift last year from my family.
The Thing: Artbook includes 375 pieces of original artwork (from various artists) commemorating last year’s 35th anniversary celebration of The Thing. Some of the stuff in this book is just excellent, and die-hard fans of the film will enjoy the different interpretations of many memorable scenes.
Note: I did just notice that Amazon’s list price for this item is now $100, which is much higher than the retail price. This might mean the book is out of print, in which case you might have better luck finding it at a reasonable price elsewhere (perhaps eBay).
I’m a rock fan in my mid forties, and I tend not to like a lot of newer music. Maybe that means I’m crotchety. Maybe it means today’s music scene is sorely lacking. I will contend to the death that it’s the latter… but that’s probably exactly what you’d expect a crotchety guy to say. Anyway, there are some notable exceptions to my views on current music, and one of them is a soulful young talent from Nottingham, England named Jake Bugg.
I was first turned onto Bugg’s retro folk-rock sound when his song Trouble Town served as the opening theme of the BBC television series, Happy Valley. I swore at the time that it was a 1960s tune that had somehow escaped my attention. Imagine my surprise when a Wikipedia search revealed that it was brand new music written and recorded by a then 18 year-old.
Since then, I’ve become an avid fan of Bugg’s, picking up all of his music (some on vinyl, where it really shines) and seeing him in concert last year (clip below); his guitar work blew the audience away. Interestingly, if the crowd at his show was any indication, his sound appeals to a very wide demographic — from teenagers to seniors. And for this reason, I suspect one of his albums (best to start with his first one) would make a great Christmas gift for fans of the genre.
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I’ve made my thoughts and feelings on the late Charles Krauthammer quite clear in two tribute columns I wrote earlier this year for this website. He was a man of unquestionable character who had an enormous passion for reasoned, intelligent debate and the betterment of America. That’s why I’m pretty excited to read his new book, due out in early December.
The Point of It All: A Lifetime of Great Loves and Endeavors is said to feature the best of Krauthammer’s original thought in published and unpublished work. Also included, according to the synopsis: “a deeply personal section offering insight into Krauthammer’s beliefs about what mattered most to him–friendship, family and the principles he lived by…”
The timing of the release of this book makes it ideal for gift-giving this Christmas.
I’ve written before of my appreciation for the music of Blue October and the example set by the band’s front-man, Justin Furstenfeld. Though Furstenfeld shies away from politics, his personal story of redemption, his work ethic, and the spiritual gratitude he carries through his life are traits that should resound with traditional conservatives.
Furstenfeld’s Open Book Winter Album was recorded from live, acoustic performances from his small-venue solo tour. The audience interaction and even the occasional sounds of glasses clinking together from a nearby bar add to the intimacy of the set. Those unfamiliar with Furstenfeld’s music are given a great sampling of the sincerity and depth of his work, making it a potentially great Christmas gift for those on your list who enjoy honest and impactful songwriting.
Oddly enough, I was introduced to the work of artist Eric Bryant on Twitter one night, after he posted a quick drawing he’d made Hollywood Weapons host, Terry Schappert (who had given me a nice blurb for my latest book). I was blown away by how good the drawing was, so I looked into some of Bryant’s other work. Needless to say from the samples below, I was thoroughly impressed.
Bryant, who’s a fellow conservative and all around good guy, is a freelance artist who has created lots of amazing paintings and drawings for both corporate and individual clients. His Instagram page features some of his brilliant work, and if you’re not following it, you should be.
I hired him a while back to do a drawing from a picture of our beloved household dog (as a gift for my wife), and as you can see, it came out fantastic. He has also done work for other members of my family.
Since there’s only about a month left between now and Christmas, my guess is that Eric wouldn’t be able to get many new orders completed before the holidays, but his work would make an excellent gift for any time of the year. It truly is special.
It’s probably easiest to contact him through his Facebook page.
Well, I hope some of you found these ideas useful. I also hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. Good luck with your holiday shopping, and if you need one more gift idea, I hear the book series below is pretty good…