I had two friends over last night, and they helped me wrap some presents. I realized as we worked that wrapping presents is one of the activities in our society that has been relegated to quick-and-easy-is-best. Kind of like instant pudding and cake mix in a box, wrapping a present has evolved into buying a pretty bag. We drop the gift into a cushion of tissue paper, arrange colorful tissue paper on top and we're done.
I remember going over to my friend's house before Christmas and their huge dining room table was devoted to preparing gifts for giving. We cut the paper from a roll, making sure not to waste any of the lovely paper. We folded the ends over the box just so. It was more complicated than hospital corners on bedsheets. There was a pile of ribbons, bows, and decorations, new and some save from year to year. Our family has a box that circulates. The box is over fifty years old and has been taped at the corners innumerable times.
My aunt had her wrapping center in a guest room. My bedroom was the center of our gift-wrapping and I usually got the privilege of wrapping most of the gifts.
Why am I going on and on about wrapping gifts? Because it occurred to me that God wrapped His Gift to us with tremendous care. Images of a heavenly host in a star-studded sky springs to mind. A star so bright that it led wise men from afar to the town of Bethlehem. The manger, the donkey, the shepherds, all bring a special touch to the wrappings of Christmas. Each has become a symbol, saying more than what the object means when standing alone. The donkey reminds us of care given to the mother of Christ even as she endured an arduous journey. The manger tells us that Jesus is for all people, not just the rich or ruling class. The shepherds emphasize that anyone can come to worship the King.
When I give a gift, it really doesn't matter if it is wrapped with crisp corners or hidden under a sheet of tissue. What matters is my heart as I prepare an offering of friendship and love.
My advice for the season? Enjoy the gifts you give as much as the gifts you get. Enjoy the process of wrapping. Enjoy the gift that God has given you, filling your heart with joy and hope.