• Maggie Wallem Rowe

Started Your Christmas Shopping Yet?


It was mid-November of last year in a group Zoom call when my longtime friend Marlene cheerfully announced that she had finished her Christmas shopping. Gifts for her friends, children, grandchildren, and extended family had already been carefully chosen, wrapped, and stacked in a closet ready for shipping.


I recall staring at my friend in admiration and consternation. Christmas? Next month already? Why did no one tell me?!


I quickly calculated on my fingers: How many children had I to buy for? (Seven, counting our bonus kids).


And how about grandchildren? (Five with one on the way.)


Friends? Extended family? Our beloved pastor? Wowza, did I feel overwhelmed.


Never fear: the Mighty ‘Zon to the rescue! And thus began the cavalcade of Prime delivery trucks winding up the drive.


Ugh. Not this year.


Whether you’re an organized Marlene or a procrastinating Maggie, you might not feel like giving a mega-monopoly all your business this year either. Sure, it’s easier and sometimes a little cheaper, but you miss the satisfaction of supporting your local stores. Plus, given the much-lamented supply-chain woes of late 2021, you’re assured of taking your purchases home promptly if you buy what’s available locally.


Here are some suggestions ~


The weekend after Thanksgiving, many downtown shopping districts sponsor “Shop Small Saturday” with special discounts, sales, and sometimes even refreshments. Look your favorite stores up on the web first to see what they have planned and download or print out any available coupons.


My hometown has recently been blessed with a brand-new 18,000 square foot toy store and bookstore called “Sassafras on Main” where I’ve done all my shopping for the grands this year. Our daughter’s family visited last week, and Amber and I shopped in secret while the kids reveled in the interactive displays.


Once the kids were in bed, Mike and I wrapped gifts to go back with them to New Jersey. Not a single delivery truck will need to tote toys up the S-curve of our mountain driveway this year. AH!


And as you might imagine, my favorite go-to gifts every year are books. If you’re fortunate to have a bookstore nearby, the manager will be delighted to order any titles you request that are not already on their shelves. Or you can order direct from the publisher at a cost often lower than you can find at the We Sell Everything From A-Z vendor.


These are a few titles I’m gifting this year!


Farmhouse Retreat: Life-Giving Inspiration from a Rustic Countryside by Terri Kraus


In the winter months, what’s better than curling up with a beautiful hardcover book with gorgeous full-color photographs and thoughtful devotions on life in the rural beauty of North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest? (I might be a tad bit partial here.).


As a farmer’s daughter, I love the DIY articles about canning, baking bread, and creating décor using whatever you forage from the natural world. This book – a steal at under $15 - is for anyone seeking an intimate connection with God’s creation in your busy life.





Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver by Ned Bustard


Got kids or grands who believe in the Claus? This book explains the man behind the legend while pointing young readers to the Christ.


“On the night before Christmas,

so the old stories say,

Saint Nicholas rides

In a magical sleigh.

But what is the truth,

And what are the legends?

Who is this giftgiver,

And why all the presents?”


Recounted in rhyme that’s a blast for kids and their grownups to read aloud, this whimsical new hardcover (illustrated with hand-carved block prints) helps children learn about the life of Saint Nicholas and why he became known as one of the greatest giftgivers of all time. This fresh recounting is historical, theological, and magical – quite the achievement!, Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver is a brand new-old story that features a jolly old man with a sack of gifts, but it centers on the greatest giftgiver…and the amazing gift of his Son, Jesus Christ.


Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship by Afton Rorvik


People are often surprised when I admit that I’m an introvert at heart. As much as I love people, have led a public life, and am – ahem – quite chatty, it’s time alone that restores my spirit.


Tending and befriending others might come easily for the outgoing among us, but there are countless others whose quiet empathy, loyalty, and generosity of spirit make them the kind of friends the rest of us long to have.


Let a special friend know how much you value her by gifting her with this welcome companion to all those longing to live in connection.



In other news, I was delighted to discover this week that This Life We Share is included in this 2021 Gift Guide for Women.

Interested in a personalized, gift-wrapped, and shipped gift for a friend for the price of the book? Opportunity coming next week!)


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