We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
For Christmas books for the youth, I highly recommend the two ancestors of self-help books, which together contain the ABCs of life, and one recent deserving addition. Corny, yes. Hip? No. Wise, yes. Still true? Absolutely. Indispensible when facing the big world.
In an era when we no longer live with grandpas and grandmas and aunts and uncles, we need books like these to fill us in on how the world works. Who else will teach us this stuff?
Now I know why nobody likes me. I never read the first two books (nauseating, scanning the back and random pages) and I detested the third.
Really, Bird Dog, I don't care how frazzled you are with the party preparations (and have fun,by the way!)you've read better books. For example, reading all the Narnia books is a far more pleasurable and character-improving way to spend some evenings. Or the Confessions of Augustine ("Lord, make me chaste, but not yet...") or the Book of Job. But these pathetic Yanks, with their watered down drivel designed to help people keep their faith enough in a box so that it will never threaten their ability to be commercial pirates. Really, I would have expected better of you! Your dog might do better, in fact I know he would...
You need more than a junior year abroad to become civilized. More than the occasional reverential tourist trip. Those things are good, but not enough. America is wonderful, a city on a hill, the best place on earth, etc. but its literary and cultural traditions are second-rate at best. You need years of the Spanish Inquisition (NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition), bloody religious wars, peasant rebellions, the firebombing of Hamburg, the French resistance, etc. If you can live through that, perhaps you will have something useful to say about the conduct of life.