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?

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