By Melanie Rigney


When it came to presents, my mother had this thing. She never got us what we wanted. Oh, she meant to, I’m certain. It was just that with taking care of four children, being the primary emotional support for her own mother, and being married to a guy who worked all sorts of hours as a postal clerk, getting our gifts just right wasn’t top of mind for her.

So the Christmas a light blue cotton bathrobe was on my list (including the page in the JCPenney catalog where it could be found), I got a pink chenille one. When I wanted a brunette Barbie with ponytail, I got a blond one with a bubblecut. For one of her birthdays, my sister asked for a small camera with a flash attachment; the camera she got didn’t have one.

We were good kids. We didn’t complain (except to each other) or throw tantrums about the “errors.” But once in a while, Mom would later run across those wish lists, and feel awful she hadn’t given us what we wanted.

And yet … generally, her gifts would work out just as well, maybe better, than the things we asked for. In our drafty old house, chenille kept me warmer than cotton would have, and pink probably suited my coloring better. Bubblecut Barbie’s hair stayed neat long after my friends’ ponytail Barbies’ hair got ratty. My sister learned how to take some pretty awesome natural light photographs.

Sometimes, we don’t immediately appreciate God’s gifts either. But if we trust, we may find out what appears to be a snake when we’ve asked for a fish, or a scorpion when we’ve asked for an egg, turns out to be exactly what we need to grow closer to him. The loss of a loved one may provide us with the compassion we need to minister to others. A disappointment at work may provide us with the trust and patience to wait for God’s larger plan to unfold. May we appreciate these gifts as we receive them each day, and pray for the faith to embrace them with a loving heart.

“If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13)

Ask God for the wisdom to find the joy in a gift that appears to be more of a burden right now.

About the Author:

melanierigneyMelanie Rigney is humbled that her book Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith (Franciscan Media) is the latest WINE book club selection. She lives in Arlington, VA, and feels most at peace at her parish’s perpetual adoration chapel. Check her out at