A few years ago, my sister started including books from Dynamic Catholic with my Christmas goodies. (I haven’t asked, but I imagine she gets them from her deacon husband.) The first time I got one I hadn’t looked in the bag until I got home. When I found the book, I rolled my eyes and tossed it aside. I had no interest in Do Something For God, Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa: 365 Daily Reflections. I thought it would be a good regifting for one of my Catholic friends in Florida who I still needed a Christmas gift for. But as I was packaging it to mail off, an idea hit me. If I got another copy for myself, my friend and I could go through the book together and share our thoughts on the readings with each other. So, I did and we did. We communicated more that year than we had in a long time. It turned out to be a great gift after all! The gift was not the book, but the deepening of a friendship.
Last year I got I Heard God Laugh. I loved the title, but it was another Dynamic Catholic book. I tossed it aside once more as I had other spiritual books I was more interested in reading. Recently I ran across the book again, so began to peruse it. I don’t agree with all of it, but the book does have some really good passages and concepts not dissimilar from our teachings: Embrace your best, truest, highest self; Make prayer a daily practice; Find a joy independent of external realities; etc. I went through the book highlighting passages that resonated with me. I intend to bring it with me next time we have lunch and share it with my sister. Again, the gift was not the book, but the conversation it will bring about.
I used to criticize my mother who would find fault with my presents to her before thanking me for them. I realized I was doing the same with these books from my sister. I did not verbalize my dissatisfaction as my mother had, but it was there. But now reflecting upon the real gifts these books have given me, I graciously accept this year’s edition. It will be interesting to discover the true gift Mother Teresa; In My Own Words has in store for me.
Did you receive a present this holiday season you’re not thrilled with? My stepmother taught me that once a gift is given it is yours to do with as you please. You have no obligation to the presenter to keep it if you don’t like it. You could regift, donate or toss it out. Just don’t do so angrily or with dissatisfaction, but with appreciation for the person who thought enough of you to give you a present. And, before disposing of it, see if you can find the real value in it first.