Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Opinions, Anyone?

I have a dilemma. Well, several actually, but I just want to highlight one in particular here, and ask for opinions. YOURS.

What say you to 'helpful' books as gifts?

Last year we gave as Christmas gifts a handful of books that I'd read and enjoyed. The kind that make you look at things differently, do things differently, and bless your entire household. I LOVE books like that. We gave a couple copies of Nourishing Traditions, more than that of Total Money Makeover, things like that. Both of these are books I own and treasure, and I wanted to bless others the same way. One recipient of NT deals with certain health issues that are somewhat addressed in the book, and I thought they might enjoy a new perspective on nutrition, in light of that. The other NT book was for someone who just loves cookbooks and health stuff. Everyone likes money, so I figured the TMM couldn't go wrong.

Except, maybe.

Based on the response (or lack thereof) to some of these (not all), I began to wonder (paranoid, again?). Did people assume that a gift like TMM was more of a "you obviously don't know how to manage your financial matters, so here you go."? That's hardly the message I'd want to convey to someone, especially by way of a gift!!!

I think maybe I'm an information junkie. Aside from my household duties, the bigger portion of my time is spent reading. And it's not usually just for enjoyment. It's usually to 'better myself' in some way (or at least try!); how to organize better, cook more efficiently, educate my children, be a better wife, have more fun with my girls, what children need for optimum nutrition, development, etc, what kind of paint is safe to use, etc etc etc. I forget that some people are not driven to (attempt to) know all there is to know about everything. :) And the last thing they want is for *me* to point that out by giving them information on whatever subject? - Ack, it hurts to even type that (not because of my sliced finger)! I really hope it doesn't feel like that to people.

Which brings me to this holiday season's moral quandry... I browse my CBD catalogs and see a lot I'd like, and a lot I *think* others would like. Some I've read, some I haven't -- take, for instance, Every Young Man's Battle... I haven't read it, but have read good things about it. Being the only "young man" in my immediate gifting circle, I always think of my nephew when I'm browsing with Christmas in mind. And then I think of how that might be taken, as though I'm suggesting he 'struggles with sexual temptation' (well, some things are universal in certain demographics, aren't they? a bundle of handwritten recipes for a new bride is usually appropriate, right?), or suggesting to his parents that they haven't done their job, or trying to be insulting, and on and on. Now, to clarify, I realize that such a book deals with a somewhat sensitive subject, and it's not like we'd hand him the book and wait for him to unwrap it before a waiting audience, you know? More likely we'd buy the 'girl version' for his sister, maybe some other relevant, edifying books for their parents, tie them up and add them to a 'family gift basket.' Which would probably put that particular basket over and beyond our entire Christmas Gift Budget, so this particular scenario isn't really on the table any more, but hopefully you get the idea.

Do we make the effort to really bless someone in a way that has lasting effect? Or do we bake a batch of cookies and call it good? Do we give the neighbor a loaf of banana bread, or attach a gospel tract too? Lately I've just been realizing how short our time really is - today will be gone in a few hours, did we build something worthwhile? Or did we just exist? This attitude spills over into everything in life, where I want everything I do to have a purpose. A good purpose. I don't just watch a movie for entertainment these days (not that that is wrong in itself!), but I'll watch one to spend some down time with my husband. I want my Christmas efforts to be similarly purposeful, but I don't want to offend (gee, that would certainly defeat "purpose!").

What do you think? Where is that line?


Meghann said...

I say go for it...especially if you are giving it out of love! If its something you are not positive about, pray, then give it unless the Lord absolutely tells you no...that's just my opinion :)

S. E. Harrison said...

I was thinking, why not get them books that are fun to read and edifying...something like a Christian missionary biography.

Anonymous said...

I always think a gift given in love is going to be received in love. What every you decide to give is from your family's heart and I would hope others would see as that :)

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way what happened to your finger?

EllaJac said...

Thank you all for your thoughts. We'll certainly be praying about this stuff, either way.

Lisha, I was dicing onions the other night, and nearly added extra protein to the recipe. I was holding the last bit of half-onion steady with my left hand (index finger apparently extended too far, but it was right along the cutting board in the rear of the onion where I wasn't looking). I cut into the onion, and was using enough pressure that it took a moment for my right hand to react (and let up on the knife). In that suspended moment, I was aware of my left finger below the blade, and then the cut, into the side of my finger and also the nail. It was very twilight-zonish. And it hurt a lot, with onion juice and all, and bled a lot (wondered if fingers have arteries), pondered (again) our no-health-insurance status, but have kept a bandaid on it and antibiotic ointment; it seems to be healing fine, though it's pretty creepy looking, the white flap of once-separated skin...

Aren't you glad you asked?

Anonymous said...

OUCH! Oh my goodness well I'm glad you let the knife up even if it was a delayed response :)

Andi said...

I think this really boils down to knowing the recipient. I, for example, would LOVE a hand-selected book on a topic the giver knows I have an interest or need in -- but I think it does require a certain amount of knowledge (something the two have talked about in the past, for example).