Christmas 2015 has come and gone. It seems like there is so much preparation and stuph that goes into the event, only to have it zip past us so fast, we don’t even realize that it is over. The other day I went into Starbucks, ordered my drink and got into the car feeling like something was different… it was: the cup holding my Chai latte was no longer red. Not more than a few weeks ago there was a national dilemma – outrage over what was not placed on Starbucks cups, and basically the day after Christmas, poof! Even the red is gone.
Nowhere is this seen more than in the painstaking process of gift wrapping. Some people are skilled at it, others dread it, and there are still others that avoid it altogether (bags serve the purpose quite well 😉 ). For those that attempt it, it requires planning, resources, and quite a bit of thought: do I use this paper or that? For whom am I wrapping? What is the “message” this wrapping job conveys? After all, you don’t want to be too “lovey-dovey” to a relative or a little kid, but you do want to display the appropriate amount of love to a spouse or significant other. So much to think about. Then there is the right kind of tape so it doesn’t show, but does hold the paper in place, and what about bows and ribbons and tags, and…
That’s a lot of stuph…
A lot of stuph that gets destroyed in a matter of seconds. Before you know it, the sound of ripping paper is replaced by the sight of crumpled remnants of once beautiful wrapping, now only destined for the trash heap or recycling bin. To be sure, there are a few that will take the time to appreciate the look of the wrapping job, admiring how beautiful the gift looks in its temporary housing, but in all honesty (as you will see later) the wrapping is nothing without the gift inside. No one looks at the wrapped present and decides to just keep the gift in its wrapping because it looks so nice.
So why do we do it? Why do we take the time to find just the right paper, and spend hours measuring, cutting, taping and decorating an item, knowing that those that will receive it are really only wanting to get to the gift inside? Why not just cut to the chase and hand them the unwrapped gift? I find it amazing that the gift wrap industry (even those words seem to be contradictory) rakes in over $9 billion annually…. that’s a ton of stuph that gets tossed aside in a matter of seconds.
I would venture to say that gift giving is much more than just spending money on something that the receiver might want. There is a value that goes into the giving of a gift that has, really, nothing to do with the tangible exchange of goods. Large or small, inexpensive or extravagant, the gift itself tends to lose its sparkle over time, especially since we have additional occasions to give – there are always more birthdays, more Christmases, more promotions, and the list goes on. At some point, the person to whom we are giving a gift just simply does not need another toy or tie or set of earrings… but we give them anyway.
Gift wrapping then becomes an extension of our heart. It is part of the gift – a way to show that the gift is more than just money spent. It is time and care and love taken to prepare the gift to be given. The hope is that the person receiving the gift will see all of that in the presentation of the gift. It doesn’t matter that it only lasts a little while, because the memory of the gift being given is what really lasts.
There is a scripture that Christians hold to, where Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you”. Now, I have been taught, and have held to the belief that the reason that Jesus has not yet returned was because we weren’t ready… there were still people that needed to hear the gospel. As true as that might be, I don’t think it is the only reason. After all, I’m sure he could figure out how to wrap this up in an instant (no pun intended 😉 ). But there is something about that word, prepare. It’s kind of like wrapping a gift. Time has to be taken to prepare the gift properly, to show the love and care of the giver. So, while we sit and anxiously wait for the time when we can shed the paper and get to the “real stuff”, we miss the wrapping itself… life, love, relationship, development, challenge, joy… all of those things that make us have reason to want an eternal life. For this reason, I can see that He is not just sitting around until we “get it”, but rather He is actively folding each edge, carefully taping sections together, cutting out what is not needed, and placing bows and ribbons on my life in just the right places to make it beautiful.
Some of the memories of Christmas are captured in pictures. Rarely do we capture unwrapped presents under the tree, because once unwrapped they become tools of joy in the hands of the kids. But we do capture pictures of wrapped presents under the tree. These pictures give us memories of anticipation, of love, and of the beauty of the season. We think back to the joy we both hoped and expected for the receiver, and our joy when those hopes were realized. Wrapping the gifts was hard work, but it was well worth it.
As we leave the Christmas season, the new year marks another set of opportunities for us to give gifts to those we love and admire. We should remember that what we wrap is more than just a trinket… it is our very lives – we give ourselves in every gift. I pray this coming year will be filled with many memories being made for you in the wrapping of every gift.
As I told you before, wrapping is nothing without the gift inside, and Jimmy Kimmel proves it in this hilarious and heartbreaking video of children getting some unexpected gifts for Christmas… have fun with this one 🙂
And to balance out the gift giving, here are some kids who may forget the actual gifts, but the “wrapping” will be imprinted on them for the rest of their lives 🙂