Does the thought of hitting the malls this Black Friday (and beyond) fill you with dread? Is a crowded parking lot an occasion of sin for you? Do gift cards leave you feeling like a failure?
Why not skip all that stress and and give your loved ones thoughtful, unique, and delicious gifts made by monks and nuns from monasteries and religious communities around the country and available online?
These handcrafted and original gifts will thrill everyone on your list, from your most pious aunt to your hipster nephew searching for authenticity.
Here are a few favorites of the Aleteia staff:
1. Fudge from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. Try the “Southern Touch” fudge, with real peach morsels, pecans and a touch of pecan brandy ($12.95 a box) http://www.holyspiritmonasterygifts.com
2. Soap from the Texas Nuns at the Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel in San Antonio,Texas. The Texas Nuns (Tune in to their radio show "A Good Habit" on Guadalupe Radio Network on Wednesdays at 2 pm EST.) offer their Nonnavita “super natural soap” in a variety of scents. Try our favorite, "Texas Prairie," infused with sage, lemongrass, and spearmint, or ($7 a bar). And check their website for Black Friday specials! www.texasnuns.com
3. Jams and Jellies from the Trappist Preserves and the monks at Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts ($12.95 for three jars) These monks have cornered the market on preserves for a reason. They’re delicious! http://www.monasterygreetings.com/product/Trappist_Preserves
4. Brandy-dipped fruitcake from the New Camaldolese Monks of Big Sur, California ($22 for a one-pound cake) And while you’re at it pick up a copy of their CD, “O Day of Resurrection,” by the 22 Camaldolese Benedictine monks themselves, performing a style of plainsong, or a cappella chant, that is based on Gregorian chant ($16.98 for CD). http://www.hermitagebigsur.com.
5. All natural beeswax candles from the Monastery of Saint John in Manton, California A trio of wonderfully scented pillars in assorted sizes makes a lovely gift ($36.00 for a set of three) http://www.stjohnsbookstore.com
6. Organic maple syrup from the Monastery Gift Shop at the Community of Saint Benedict in Enfield, Connecticut ($11.95 for a jug). Perfect for Christmas morning!
7. Books from Ignatius Press A Catholic publishing house based in San Francisco, California, and founded in 1978 by Father Joseph Fessio SJ, a Jesuit priest and former pupil of Pope Benedict XVI. While neither handmade nor delicious, these hand-selected books will satisfy every reader on your list. http://www.ignatius.com
8. Caramels from the Trappist nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi in Dubuque, Iowa And try their “Meltaways” a favorite among the sisters, made with milk chocolate, hazelnuts and a hint of salt (from $7.75 for a half pound) http://www.monasterycandy.com
9. Cheese from the Trappist Monks of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky Using milk from their own prize-winning Holsteins, the Trappist brothers have been producing this cheese since the 1940s. Enjoy the same cheese Thomas Merton did, now in Basil Pesto, in addition to traditional Mild, Aged, and Smoky flavors (from $30.25 for a half wheel). https://www.gethsemanifarms.org/cheese.aspx
10. Creamed honey from Redwoods Monastery in northern California Try a gift-box of three flavors ($7 a jar, or $18 for three jars) https://secure.redwoodsabbey.org/Store/