Wrapping up the Holiday
By Emily Parke Chase –
Shopping for Christmas gifts can be an exhausting task that involves dashing through the malls in a one-horse open sleigh, selecting gifts for that hard-to-please elf, and fighting the traffic on rooftops. Thus when it comes to wrapping gifts to put under the tree, some of us, and perhaps even Santa, run out of gas.
Wrapping packages probably dates back to prehistoric times when cavemen used wooly mammoth skins as gift wrap. As soon as less odorific alternatives were invented, people turned to papyrus, parchment, and finally paper. For many years, sheets of newspaper, especially the Sunday comics, worked fine. Of course, it took a few more years to invent cellophane tape. As a result, my friend’s gifts tend to resemble Egyptian mummies, using tape in place of gauze.
Next came bows. An enormous shiny bow on top of a package is like melted cheese on top of a church potluck casserole: It can hide a multitude of sins. In not-so-long ago times, believe it or not, people actually tied ribbons on their packages without help from professionals. Now we pay others to fold, bend, and mutilate ribbons into complex shapes that rival my worst bad-hair day.
Boxes come in assorted sizes and shapes. They hide awkward bumps and lumps. Plain brown boxes worked fine until one day someone discovered they could shape them into unique sizes for specific items and thus let the whole world know that Dad was receiving a tie for Christmas. The next logical step was gift bags. These offered the perfect solution for last minute gifts. You could open the front door and receive a fruit cake from a neighbor, plop it in a bag as you walk through the house, and then open the back door and pass the cake along to the next deliveryman. Like boxes, these bags once came in various shades of brown, beige and ecru (a French word, meaning “brown”). Now they come decorated with holiday hues.
Still there is room for creativity. When my father asked for new cans of tennis balls for Christmas one year, my brothers and I wrapped each ball individually in Christmas wrap and tied them on a small Christmas tree. Dad tried very hard to thank us even as he grieved over the fact that the vacuum seals of the cans were destroyed in this process. (He experienced enormous relief when he discovered that the individually wrapped balls were actually used ones; with the new ones still safely stored in their air-tight cans under the tree.)
Is this painful ritual of wrapping Christmas gifts truly necessary? Is there any theological basis in scripture for this annual rite? Just one: Long before holiday wrapping paper, bows, boxes and gift bags became popular, God Himself took time to wrap up all His love in a bundle of swaddling clothes. Then He placed His gift in a manger for us to find on Christmas morning.
Thank God for His Son, a gift too wonderful for words! (2 Cor. 9:15 NLT)
The author of this article is busy wrapping her gifts, but feel free to visit her at emilychase.com.