Giving presents is a talent; to know what a person wants, to know when and how to get it, to give it lovingly and well. Unless a character possesses this talent there is no moment more annihilating to ease than that in which a present is received and given.
At my recent 6-month checkup, while we waited for the dentist to finish working on my dearly beloved, the assistant and I watched a segment of one of the morning news programs in which three women (I assume they were hosts of the program) wrapped some awkwardly shaped items as fast as they could. The results were predictably hilarious, and I was amused along with the people on the set behind the scenes whose laughter we could here, but actually not that amused because I am terrible at wrapping presents. Just terrible.
And I am not kidding. This is not like the false modesty of the woman who invites you in to her home saying “Come in, my house is a mess” when of course it could be on the cover of a glossy magazine.
Which brings me to events of a few days ago. I have had some difficulty drumming up enthusiasm for Christmas, but I did manage to rouse myself and took a pie tin of cookies to the neighbors. We have lovely neighbors--a nice, personable young couple with three very friendly and very nice kids. I am not sure how to describe our relationship: it is cordial when we happen to see each other, and we wave when they pass us by when we are walking, but we are not on each others’ doorsteps. I expect I am easily old enough to be her mother.
I covered the pie tin with fresh aluminum foil and put some plastic wrap over the cookies but that is as far as I got with wrapping it. Oh, I did try… but after struggling with it for a while and looking at the mess I was making and how awful it looked, I just gave up and took the wrapping paper off and carried the cookies to their house without being wrapped.
My presentation of this gift left a lot to be desired.
The older daughter opened the door. I handed her the cookies and the Christmas card and exchanged pleasantries with the Cary, the mom, and she said “Oh, and I have something for you.” And she walks over to their tree and hands me this amazing package. All gold and sparkling with glitter.
The older girl says “You’re really gonna love this, it is very warm.” And then “Oh, the glitter is going to get everywhere.”
If there had been an available hole, it would not have taken too much effort for me to have leaped in and pulled the ground down on top of me.
Not hard to miss a life lesson here about being able to graciously receive a present from someone when you realize what you have given them is totally inadequate. And a spiritual lesson as well.
I am thinking tonight about the most perfect gift of all. God’s gift to man, a gift we can never match, the birth of the Child we celebrate on Christmas.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.…