Wrapping Christmas presents has become something of an art at our house. Not because I use fancy paper or tie handmade bows.
Rather, the art is in The Disguise.
You were a kid once. You know what I mean. Admit it: You searched for your name on the tag, analyzed the shape of the gift, shook the gift for a hint at the contents, and perhaps even peeled back the paper for a closer look. (This is why we don’t use gift bags in our house.)
My girls are 7 and 4. So now you know why the Great Disguise has become Standard Operating Procedure in our home. They’ve got this thing figured out. Small flat squares are CDs. Slightly larger packages hint at DVDs. Wrapped books and board games — even Barbies — are quickly identified. And then there’s the dreaded rectangular box that surely contains jeans or a scratchy church dress.
So there I was, at 5 p.m. on a snowy Sunday, four days before Christmas. I headed for the bedroom with a Fiskars, Scotch tape, a few rolls of cheap wrapping paper and a variety of odd-shaped boxes originally designed for Gap shirts, Skechers shoes and a 12-pack of Blue Moon bottles.
The Great Disguise had begun.
I stuffed a kaleidoscope, spinning tops and bubble gum into a Younkers shirt box. Three of Anna’s books fit nicely in a shoe box. And so it went.
Finished, I patted myself on the back, unlocked the door and paraded the gifts past the girls, placing each of them under the tree.
My oldest daughter wasted no time in her detective work, picking up a Younkers box and determining it contained “some boring shirt.” She was more eager to hug boxes that she believed held items from her wish-list.
Funny thing: I know how she feels. I want my wishes to come packaged in ways I expect.
But blessings come disguised, don’t they?
Like today’s snowstorm. We couldn’t leave our home, couldn’t even go to church for the second Sunday in a row. Wrapped in snow, we unwrapped rest.
Later, it was time for the girls’ baths, which they ordinarily dread. I wrapped the room in candlelight, ginger-snap cookies and Hershey’s kisses. Repackaged, bathtime became a treat.
And just now, as I write, it is well past bedtime. My husband and my girls have long ago been tucked into bed. Gifts, they are, wrapped in soft blankets.
So I sit here, typing at my computer, thinking about the contents of the unexpected gifts inside disguised packages.
I think about all the gifts that have come to me in odd shapes, at odd times, in ways that I never anticipated.
And now, four days before we honor Jesus’ birthday, I think about Him: a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes, a King who showed up in a feed trough. He is at once the Gift, and the Giver.
Suddenly, I realize the truth about gifts. The disguised ones are often the most valuable.