Inspirational gifts a big focus of Christmas gift ideas

November 12, 2004|HERB BROCK

At Christmastime, Christians are implored to promote "peace on earth." But this Christmas, they realize that there is war on earth.

Danville Christian Bookstore and Music Center is a metaphor for the dichotomy of peace and war. There are plenty of cards, ornaments, banners and books celebrating Christ as the "prince of peace." But this year, there are books and other merchandise reminding customers that there is war, one that affects their countrymen and, in some cases, directly involves their loved ones.

In addition to a myriad other Christmas-related items that line the shelves, fill the bins and cover the tables at the store, owner Dan McClellan believes some of the better sellers this season will be books about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the overall war on terror.

"We believe there will be a significant market for inspirational books and other merchandise written and made for men and women in the armed services and their families, especially those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their relatives," said McClellan.


One such book is "Medals Above Your Heart" by Lt. Carey Cash. The author is a soldier who has served in Iraq. A book dealing with the war on terror is "Refined By Fire" by Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell.

McClellan said Birdwell was at his office in the Pentagon when it was hit by a plane hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. He suffered severe burns but lived to write a story of inspiration about how he and others survived because of a strong faith in God, one that got even stronger because of the attack, McClellan said.

A book that touches on the war on terror as part of a larger portrait of the way the subject sees important issues through the prism of his Christian beliefs is "The Faith of George W. Bush."

McClellan acknowledged that gifts dealing with war aren't the kind of items that normally find their way into stockings or under Christmas trees. But he said that in the books and other materials he has ordered that deal with America's current wars, warfare has produced stories of faith as well as courage and patriotism that inspire, not depress.

"These books are wonderful stories of how, with God's help, ordinary men and women have performed in extraordinary ways," he said.

In addition to the war-related books of inspiration, other gifts geared to men and women in uniform are Bibles published specifically for the military and paramilitary, McClellan said.

"We carry Bibles that have been produced for men and women in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force and also for the National Guard, police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians," he said.

But there are plenty of other books of inspiration that have nothing to do with war that should also be popular Christmas gifts, said McClellan.

"We have several inspirational Christian fiction titles that likely will find their way onto Christmas shopping lists, including books by Karen Kingsbury, Dee Henderson, Ted Dekker and Beverly Lewis," he said. "We also have high profile non-fiction titles, including 'Against All Odds' by actor Chuck Norris and 'Twice Adopted' by President Reagan's adopted son, Michael Reagan."

And there is a sure-bet best-seller, "Come Thirsty," written by Max Lucado, a prolific Christian author whose name, McClellan said, is the "second most recognizable brand, right behind Billy Graham, in the Christian world." A popular Lucado Christmas book is "The Christmas Child."

Expected big sellers

Here are some items that McClellan expects to be big sellers this Christmas sales season for what he sees as the two main kinds of shoppers - the "gift buyers" and the "decorators":

* CDs and tape cassettes released during the holidays, including two by Christian music giants Amy Grant (her greatest hits) and Michael W. Smith (his first studio album in five years).

* CDs and tapes released any time of the year by other popular artists in a variety of Christian music genres, including Southern Gospel, praise and worship, contemporary, rock, rap and hip-hop.

* Videos and DVDs focusing on the Christian aspect of Christmas and on the life of Christ, including the blockbuster "The Passion of Christ."

* Books, CDs, tapes and DVDs for teens and children, both seasonal and timeless, including a book called "Jesus and the 12 Dudes Who Did."

* Toys and games, most with Christian themes but all with broad appeal.

* A growing assortment of sweatshirts, T-shirts, jackets and other clothing, charms and other jewelry, and afghans.

* A wide variety of Christmas cards, tree ornaments, nativity scenes and other decorations.

* And Bibles with special leather covers for sports fans of certain high schools and colleges. In addition to having a large inventory of Bibles in different versions, the store has Bibles in two-tone colors for fans of Boyle County (black and gold), Danville (blue and white), and Kentucky ("Kentucky blue").

"Our goal is to provide a Christian answer for every secular gift, and that is shown in everything from books about war to Bibles," said McClellan.

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