A Gift All Wrapped in Swaddling Clothes

Autor: fara autor

Christmas morning of my fifth year I woke to find a wooden rifle under the tree, carefully carved by my dad, complete with a dowel barrel and a hole for my trigger finger. I can almost smell the fresh paint mingled with the fragrance of pine branches. And though I don't recall playing with it, I remember the awe I felt in knowing my dad made it just for me.

Not all gifts, however, are so personally intended. After that horrendous brown vase I got at a Christmas party, at least I had the perverse joy of watching someone open "How to Raise Rhesus Monkeys" that had been foisted off on me the year before. Then there's a punch-out calendar to sit on my desk reminding me all year long to buy Farmer's Insurance. And the mortuary that gives away bottles of hand lotion every year--my family always calls it "embalming fluid."

What takes the joy out of giving are the obligatory gifts--the expected office exchange, the box of candy you keep by the door to hand the Smiths when they come to call as you know they will, once a year. And don't forget the gift for great Aunt Hattie whom you haven't liked since she pinched your cheeks when you were little.

Really difficult are the gifts that come with long invisible strings dangling from them, gifts so very expensive that you could never afford to reciprocate. Gold and diamond jewelry from a suitor. You don't want to hurt his feelings, but ....

I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt as they watched richly robed wise men kneel before their child offering alabaster jars of precious myrrh, inlaid boxes heavy with the scent of frankincense, and iron-bound chests laden with gold - gifts fit for a king. How could they possibly repay?

I guess the most troublesome gift at Christmas is the Child Himself. What do we say? We smile nicely and pat the humbly- wrapped present. "How nice of you, God, to have been so thoughtful," we mumble politely. But the Gift lies on the dresser unopened year after year. Perhaps because we don't expect to find much inside except a useless religious trinket. Perhaps because we don't feel any need for God just now.

Perhaps because we know that if we unwrap the Gift we'll be obligated to the Giver beyond what we can ever repay. And so it sits ... and so it sits until in loneliness, in pain, in utter desperation we tug at the ribbons and tear off the wrappings, hoping against hope we'll find inside what we've longed for. And so it is. Unconditional Love!


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