Although much of this story revolves around Christmas, it is not only a Christmas story. It is a story for every day of the year.
Since I was just a little girl, I loved pretty packages. When I was in high school, I recall envisioning wrapping gifts at a department store during the holidays. I was fascinated with the concept of gift-wrapping, and doing it very well, creating a pretty package. So, even though I wasnít allowed to work while still in school, I practiced wrapping, mastering the art of gift-wrapping at a very early age. For whatever the reason, a pretty package was important to me. My mother was so impressed with my wrapping talent that she asked me to wrap all the Christmas gifts, including my own. Once I was grown, with a family of my own, I received great delight when I coordinated the wrapping paper with the tree decorations. I became a fanatic about it, and was in my glory when friends or family commented on the lovely packages displayed under the tree. It wasnít just a Christmas thing; I was the same way about birthday gifts, wedding gifts, anniversary gifts, graduation gifts and shower gifts. Any reason to wrap a gift put me in my glory. Enthralled with the colorful papers and colorful ribbons, I would one day learn a serious lesson about pretty packages.
For more years than I could remember, I had wanted a pair of Aigner shoes. It seemed that everyone else had them, everyone but me. They were fairly expensive, but I yearned for those shoes. I wanted a pair so badly I once dreamt about them. One Christmas Eve years ago, we were opening gifts. I was given a prettily wrapped box that was shoebox size. Carefully, I unwrapped it to discover a burgundy colored Aigner box. I just sat there with the box in my lap for several minutes before I could lift the lid. Tears of joy streamed down my cheeks. Finally, I lifted the lid. To my disillusionment, I found the prettily wrapped Aigner box contained a pair of blue bedroom slippers from a discount store. My tears of joy quickly became tears of disappointment. To put it simply, I was crushed. It was two years later that I finally purchased my first pair of Aigner shoes.
Time moved forward. Again, it was Christmas when I received another shoebox. This one was not pretty, wrapped in the most horrid fashion. Knowing my penchant for pretty packages, my husband always had a friend wrap my gifts or had it done at the store. However, that particular Christmas, he did it by himself, and that made me very happy. As he apologized for his lack of wrapping ability, I was so touched that I, again, cried tears of joy. Slowly, I removed the paper that didn't coordinate with the tree decorations to find a shoebox that I knew had been in my closet earlier that evening. Puzzled, I cautiously lifted the lid. At first, all I could see were some of his clean socks, straight out of the dresser drawer. The look on my face must have been quite unusual. I was very confused until I lifted a pair of his socks from the middle of the box. There, I found a black velvet box, a jewelry box. As I opened it, I couldnít believe my eyes. Amidst the not so elegant wrapping and clean socks was a glittering diamond ring.
To this day, I still take great delight in wrapping gifts, but it isnít as important to me as it was at one time because of the valuable lesson I learned, one I want to share with you. From what our eyes see on the outside, it is impossible for one to ascertain what is within. As it is with packages, it is also true with people. The prettiest people packages are sometimes empty or damaged beyond repair. The ordinary people packages frequently contain great treasures. The color of our skin, the color of our eyes and the color of our hair are all elements of Godís colorful gift-wrapping. I donít know about you, but Iím thankful God packaged each of us differently. I am thankful He placed more importance on the contents than He did on just pretty packaging. Much too often, a good and loving heart, the most precious of Godís gifts, is often overlooked, just lost in the socks, because we humans determine another human package is not of value unless it is in a pretty package.