I have a fond memory from when I was a young teenager of volunteering to wrap Christmas gifts as a favor to my Aunt Margie. She had many grandchildren for whom she purchased gifts; she would bring the purchases to me, with wrapping paper, and I would go to work. I liked the job, and she liked not having the job.
Why do we wrap gifts, anyway? I assume it is to increase the excitement and surprise and add a little mystery or guesswork. Gift-wrapping also can add more color to the experience.
I remember trying to disguise packages to look nothing like what gift was under wraps. One time we bought my daughter a necklace for Christmas and hid it inside a wrapped-up ball of yarn. She grew a bit impatient as she unwound the yards of wool! Another time I wrapped a lunch box for my husband so that it looked like a big beach ball. Wrapping and unwrapping take time, but sometimes it can add to the fun and festivity.
When I turn to thoughts of the real essence of Christmas, I remember the description of the newborn Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. I think about Mary who did not even have the luxury, if you can call it that, of giving birth at home, maybe with her mother nearby. There in Bethlehem, in a stable, Mary gave birth to the greatest gift to mankind. He was put in a manger, not a cradle or crib. It certainly was not an ideal situation! However, I am sure the baby was wrapped in the love of Mary and Joseph, despite the uncertainty of the situation.
This Christmas, as we unwrap the account of Jesus’ birth, may we take time to swaddle him in our hearts with a new appreciation of the mystery of God’s Son appearing on earth to save each of us. What an amazing personal gift! We should take extra quiet time to savor the love that is divine.
And let’s consider the gift of Holy Communion that is available to us at Christmas and every other day of the year. Our Savior’s body and blood, wrapped in the appearance and substance of unleavened bread and wine, is the sustaining food that keeps us close to full life with God. How like Jesus to make his gift to us so simple—plain bread and wine, not fancy, expensive food but rather elements we can understand and receive. Jesus’ body and blood! What a marvelous gift! One wonderful size fits all of us who believe and adore the Prince of Peace! We certainly cannot take such a phenomenal gift for granted!
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.