I've pondered this book a bit, and while at first it seems to be a book about doing good to those who would hurt you, or about the pettiness of being unkind, it is also on a deeper level a great book for those who have been hurt, who carry that hurt deep inside, and who need to let go of that hurt. This books shows the true value of forgiveness.
The story begins with the narrator telling what he/she gave to his/ her enemy on each day of Christmas. "On the first night of Christmas, I gave my enemy a briar from a tanglewood tree." This goes on each day until the enemy is given broken eggs, crooked forks, old potatoes, shards of glass, crumpled tissues, scraps of paper, clumps of clay, rusty nails, a torn up bird nest, eleven dead leaves, and twigs. The books says, "The night that followed number twelve, I slept 'til half past three. And wallowed in my sallow state against my enemy." This person has nightmares and is awakened by a knocking at the door.
Outside the door is a package with the words, "Forgive me" written on it. When the package is opened, it contains a nativity created from the garbage that was given to the enemy. "Five shards of glass composed a star - a singular display. And sheep were made of tissue. Bits of bird nest made the hay. Potato shepherds came to life with carvings and with clays. As paper angels shouted out their wonders and their praise."
The story goes on to say, "All foolish things, all rotten things I'd sent my enemy, were carefully converted in this rare nativity. He turned the other cheek and made my ugliness a gem. And by so doing, pointed me. . . to lovely Bethlehem."
In my life, I have a father who I can no longer see as he is so destructive, but I can take the rotten things he gave me and create goodness and light, turn his ugliness into a gem, and keep my eyes on the Savior, Jesus Christ. The package I give him could have the tag, "I have forgiven you" instead of "Forgive Me." Forgiveness is a great gift - especially for the one doing the forgiving. It frees your mind from hate and anger and brings peace. John 14:27 says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." This is what comes from forgiveness.
My father may not see those good things, but I know I have forgiven him, and I can choose to stop the flow of rottenness and instead act as a filter that sends out waters pure and clear.
The images in the book are created by photographs of the items made into art. This book is stunning and well worth the price of $17.99, but it is on sale at at Deseret Book for $14.39. It is for older (over age 6) children and adults. This book is deep and requires a bit of life experience to fully appreciate it.
A quick shout out to my neighbor, Michelle. She brought over twelve books for the NICU babies. Thank you, Michelle for giving the gift of reading and a love of books to the littlest of babies.