Columnists Mark my words

These are gifts that keep on giving

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

If you, like me, tend to lose your mind — if not your religion — at this time of year by fruitlessly searching for a parking spot or battling crowds as you shop for Christmas gifts in person, take heart. Stop the insanity by purchasing books and products online and even have them delivered to the recipients.

This time around, I’m recommending some children’s books. These books, however, contain valuable lessons for adults as well. A bonus is that reading these books to children can foster intergenerational ties, and the artwork in these editions is captivating. Here are some of my favorites:

“The Sparkle Box: A Gift with the Power to Change Christmas,” by Jill Hardie (2011; 32 pgs.; $19.79) shows how kindness expressed in good deeds can transform Christmas. It even comes with a sparkle box.

“The Legend of the Poinsettia,” by Tomie dePaola (1997; 32 pgs.; paperback, $6.99) tells the marvelous story of how this iconic Christmas flower came to be.

“The Giving Snowman,” by Julia Zheng (2021; 27 pgs.; paperback, $11.69) is a lovely story about the importance of generosity toward those in need.

“The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,” by Susan Wojciechowski (2015; 40 pgs.; $16.19) is a moving tale about a sad and reclusive woodcarver whose life is transformed by the simple request of a widow and her young son.

“The Message of the Birds,” by Kate Westerlund (2013; 32 pgs.; $10.19) emphasizes the message (spoiler alert!): “Let there be peace on Earth” and how that simple but powerful message, so often “unsung in the world,” can spread from one person to another.

I’d also recommend gifts that are not only beautiful (and, you’ll see below, delicious) but contribute to the support of various religious orders.

Every year, I purchase Christmas cards from The Printery House in Conception, Missouri. But this ministry of the Benedictines offers much more than greeting cards. They sell beautiful crosses and rosaries, icons, Mystic Monk coffee and mugs, children’s gifts, ornaments and even hand-crafted soaps (made by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri). An extensive catalog can be viewed online, and orders placed, at: or call 1 (800) 322-2737.

If delicious treats are on your list for someone, you can’t go wrong by ordering from the Trappists at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. They’ll tempt your taste buds with everything from Monks Choice coffee to preserves to fruitcakes to fudge (many flavored with Kentucky bourbon). Orders can be placed through the website at: or by calling 1 (800) 549-0912.

A week or so after I returned from the Holy Land after Easter, there was a box for me at the post office. It was a gift from the travel company that organized the pilgrimage I was on. Why, oh why, did they send this? They found my Achilles heel — bread — and now, I can’t seem to get enough of this product. It’s called Monks’ Bread and is made by the Trappists at the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, New York.

The bread comes in a variety of flavors from, among others, white to maple cinnamon to sunflower with rolled oats to wheat whole grain. And did I mention they also have jams/preserves and biscotti? They offer other treats as well in all kinds of bundles. I’d better just give you the website now before my mouth starts to water:

I’m guessing there’s still time to head online and order any of these books or products in time for Christmas. And, if ordering from the religious orders, help them out a little more by getting something for yourself as well!

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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