During Bible Study today, Rosalee shares a Christmas lesson on the importance of wrapping paper . . . years ago she and a fellow teacher got identical gifts for their students, but the other teacher wrapped hers and Rosalee did not. Rosalee’s students felt somehow that they had gotten less than the other students because their gifts weren’t wrapped. It wasn’t that they wanted wrapping paper; they actually believed the gifts themselves were different. The wrapping paper somehow transformed the other gifts into something more.
In my own family, I have seen this in the positive sense, where even white socks and underwear become like the North Star in the wonder of giftedness they inspire simply by being festively wrapped.
And so it is, I think with life.
Chefs and fashionistas and wedding planners and interior designers have always understood that packaging matters, which is just another way of saying that we consume, we take in, we understand things, first with our eyes.
But when it comes to wrapping paper, our hands matter almost as much as our eyes . . . whether we rip and tear eagerly or slowly and carefully take apart what has been so thoughtfully put together . . . whether we notice the color and design of the paper or only see a blur of color as we dive into the gift underneath the wrapping . . . no matter how we approach it all, our hands hold the reality of gift before our minds grasp the nature of the thing presented and make their judgments . . .
In that moment, when the gift sits on our laps, when the wrapping paper surrounds the gift with care, when we behold with our eyes and deconstruct with our hands, there is holiness . . . the recognition of something special having arrived . . . the anticipation serving to actually transform the thing awaited into wonder and beauty and love . . .
That, for me, is Advent . . . the wrapping paper surrounding the gift of the coming of the Christ child . . . the wreaths and the candles, the children’s pageants and the poinsettias, the greening and candy making, the Christmas cards sent and received, the unwrapping of the Biblical story, the waiting and waiting and waiting . . . all make the event, the coming, the triumphal entry, even more than it was already . . .
Jesus is often for me like a pair of comfortable old socks . . . welcome, fitting just right, familiar . . . but the coming, the Advent anticipation, the wrapping paper wonder of it all transform that comfortable familiarity into something bigger, something my hands and eyes know so much better than my mind . . .
Even comfortable old socks can be transformed . . . even the one who wears the socks can be surprised.