News Archive from 2000

Holiday Gift Ideas
Posted on December 1, 2000

by Eleanor M. Farrell

That nip in the air (or blast of icy cold, depending on where you live) hints that the season of festive pageantry, fellowship and wishes for good fortune is once again here. Hobbits all, we look forward to seeing friends and family, sharing traditional food and drinks, and exchanging presents with those close to us. As usual, gifts to celebrate the season can be found to suit every whim and purse; here are some suggestions for the mythopoeically-inclined on your list.


I expect most of us shoppers head first to the bookstores, actual or virtual. (If you shop on line, remember that the Mythopoeic Society gets a small commission for purchases made through our site links!) "Pottermania" has been a benefit to fantasy readers, but no need to panic if everyone you know already has a complete set of Rowling's series to date. There are other books on those shelves, from reissued classics to adult/young adult novels from favorite authors to decorative picture or art books. The Mythopoeic Award winners (and finalists) are always a good bet for recent fantasy and scholarship: our 2000 awards honored Peter S. Beagle (Tamsin) and Franny Billingsley (The Folk Keeper) for fiction, as well as scholars Carole G. Silver (Strange and Secret Peoples) and the Wayne G. Hammond/Christina Scull editing collaboration team (J.R.R. Tolkien's Roverandom).

Riches published this year include new books from Robin McKinley (Spindle's End), Tim Powers (Declare), Ursula K. Le Guin (The Telling), Philip Pullman (The Amber Spyglass, which finishes the much-discussed His Dark Materials trilogy), Patricia McKillip (The Tower at Stony Wood), Diana Wynne Jones (Year of the Griffin), and more. Connie Willis' excellent collection, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, has just been issued as a mass market paperback and would make a particularly appropriate stocking stuffer. For the more scholarly-inclined, Tolkien's Legendarium, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter, contains a wealth of essays on the "History of Middle-earth" series, many by Society scholars.

Our author Guest of Honor for the 2001 Mythopoeic Conference, Peter S. Beagle, has published not one but two books this year: the MFA-winning Tamsin and A Dance for Emilia, just released. Or, in anticipation of Beagle's appearance at Mythcon 32, why not introduce younger readers to his classic The Last Unicorn? Charles Williams fans will want to check out Scholar Guest of Honor David L. Dodd's contribution to the Arthurian Poets series, Charles Williams, which includes some previously unpublished Taliessin poems.


OK, you want to clean the house a little before holiday guests arrive, but why paint those walls when you can cover them with calendars? The 2001 Tolkien Calendar (HarperCollins) features art from John Howe (see Paula DiSante's review). Other options include Fairies, featuring illustrations by Richard Doyle from his 1870 book, In Fairyland, or Pictures from the Elf World, from the Bodleian Library's collection, or A Medieval Year: Le Livre de la chasse (The Book of the Hunt) from a Morgan Library copy of Gaston Phoebus' book dated 1410 (both from Pomegranate). The 2001 Salvador Dali calendar (Graphique) is certainly fantastic, as are the biographies in the Edward Gorey: Neglected Murderesses wall calendar compilation (Pomegranate).

Movies, Music and More

In the more lively arts, last year's Williamsesque thriller, The Sixth Sense, is available on video and DVD, while the film adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven, first shown on PBS in 1980, finally gets a video release. Comic book fans will appreciate a copy of this summer's X-Men movie, just out on video/DVD, or the Japanese anime Princess Mononoke. In music, Avalon Rising's The Starlit Jewel collection of music from The Lord of the Rings (out of print on cassette) is finally released as a CD. An offshoot of the group, Broceliande, has a new self-titled collection of medieval and original music, also on CD. Both can be purchased from Flowinglass Music's web site. Seasonal music is much more than "Deck the Halls" and Mel Torme; while you're decorating for the holidays, you can fill the air with holiday tunes in whatever styles you prefer, from big bands to surf, Hawaiian slack key to chanting monks (or pigs).

Speaking of decorations, check out some of the new Hallmark Harry Potter-themed tree ornaments, priced from $8-15, on-line or in stores. Other available fantasy items to hang on your tree include characters from The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, and the usual large assortment of angels and fairies.

Tough Hobbit feet require substantial stockings. To help fill them, look for Where the Wild Things Are toys or the new line of authorized Middle-earth action figures (so you'll be able to reshoot the upcoming Peter Jackson films to your personal satisfaction, in the privacy of your bedroom ...). And who wouldn't be delighted to discover one of Toy Vault's newest creations, a lovable Cthulhu plush toy, peeping from their stocking top on Christmas morning? I can't wait for him to show up at the holiday tea I'm planning for my Xena, Buffy and Aeryn Sun action chicks ...

As tempting as it may be to curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and one of those lovely new books, don't pass up the abundant special holiday performances: Nutcracker ballets, Dickens-themed festivals and plays, carolers and dress-up teas. Many children's theater groups stage productions of The Hobbit, Where the Wild Things Are, or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at this time of year: special treats for young and old alike, and wonderful gift ideas to share time with friends and family. Happy holidays to each and every one!

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