I had never wrapped a gift in my life.
How, you ask, can a grown man arrive at retirement without ever wrapping a gift?
Remember that I grew up in Europe, and it was common practice at Christmas time for the merchants to wrap up your gifts for you. In addition, my mom was an expert wrapper, and she would wrap any gifts the merchants didn’t wrap.
Fast forward a few years. I lived in Canada by then, and I had children of my own. I would go out and purchase gifts for my wife and then have the kids wrap them for me. This went on for a few years, and then they both moved away. No problem. I would wait until they came home for Christmas and then have them wrap my gifts.
Oh, there were other gifts that I needed to give out as well — to my students and to secret Santas at school, etc. No problem! I would simply smile sweetly at my wife, and she would be happy to do the deed for me! And any other gift was a joint gift from my wife and myself, and she would happily wrap these for me as well!
So yes, it is not only possible to reach retirement age without ever wrapping a package, but it is actually not even hard to do!
Last year, my wife wanted everything to be ready for Christmas when the kids arrived. I know she thought she was doing a favour for me when she took the boxes that I had ordered for her Christmas and wrapped them up, putting her own name on the labels. Somehow, however, I didn’t see it as a favour. Maybe it was because my cognition had declined to the point that there was very little I could actually do, and my wife was having to carry the brunt of the household load. Maybe I saw this as something I actually could do, and because I could do it, I found myself really wanting to do it! I was so disappointed when she pointed out her gifts under the tree, gifts that she, herself, had wrapped. Of course she was quick to point out that she hadn’t taken them out of their shipping boxes, so she had no idea what was inside of them; but this didn’t matter. Somehow I wanted to wrap those gifts more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.
It took a while, but my wife finally began to understand that this gift-wrapping really meant something to me; and bless her heart, she proceeded to unwrap the gifts she had wrapped. She then gave them back to me along with wrapping paper, scissors, tape, ribbon and bows. I couldn’t have been happier. It took me about an hour and a half to wrap those two presents; but in the end, they were truly works of love. Notice I didn’t say works of art… But somehow, my wife saw them as such. She was so proud of my initiation for wrapping them that she even took pictures of them and sent them to the kids, and she hasn’t stopped bragging about them to everyone she sees.
So why were those two boxes that I wrapped so special to her? Even when she has no idea what was inside of them?
Because she knows the true meaning of Christmas: It isn’t the gift that counts; rather, it is the love that goes into it! In her mind, my willingness and excitement to wrap those two presents represented a whole boatload of love. Once Christmas finally arrived, she loved the presents inside the wrapping as well; but somehow, I suspect that it is the act of wrapping them that she still sees as her favourite part of her gifts from me.
This reminds me of another gift, One that we will be celebrating in another two days: The gift of the baby Jesus.
The birth of a tiny baby may not seem like such a wonderful gift to mankind; but when we take the time and effort to contemplate the love that went into that gift, suddenly it becomes the greatest gift in the universe! Jesus loved us so much that He didn’t want Heaven without us. As it was, our sin left us without any legal right or ability to enter Heaven, so Jesus left heaven behind to come to this earth and live among us. He came to suffer and die so that we might have life eternal. What love! What selfless, incomprehensible love! “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)
As Christmas approaches, I urge you to contemplate the height and the depth and the breadth and the width of this selfless, unfathomable love. If you do, you will appreciate Christmas so much more than you ever have before. Not sure how to do that? Why not start by meditating upon John 3:16-18? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (NIV)
Oh, and if you’re like me and always try to get others to wrap your gifts for you, why not surprise everyone and try it yourself? Remember, it doesn’t have to be a work of art. The mere fact that you tried makes it so much more important, for it then becomes a work of love!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries