Christmas 1949 was likely an ordinary holiday. For one particular couple, it was the beginning of a lifetime of tradition. This was their first Christmas as a married couple, one month before their first anniversary. A couple of eighteen-year-olds exchanged gifts. I don’t know what those first gifts were. Her gift to him was beautifully wrapped (I’m guessing, because of the next significant detail). His gift to her was wrapped in plain brown paper. She was so mad! How could he wrap it in plain paper? Was it just not worth the effort to find proper wrapping?
A new tradition
He got a kick out of her reaction, thus beginning a 70+ year tradition. He not only wrapped her gifts in brown paper, but he hid them, pulling them out as the last gift of the day. Her anger transformed into expectation. The contents of the humble packaging were often very valuable (often jewelry or something special he knew she wanted but didn’t get for herself). In the later years, when the gathering family grew to 25-30 people, he discretely added the brown box to her matriarchal pile of gifts. She still opened it last.
A bigger lesson
If you haven’t figured it out, this is another story about my grandparents. I learned so much from them. This brown paper packaging is no exception to the lessons. It may even be one of the most important ones. The best gifts are often hidden or disguised. After all, the Savior of the world was born in a barn, a carpenter for His earthly father and a humble girl for His mother. He lived a pauper’s life, even while teaching the crowds about the coming Kingdom. Isaiah 53 tells us He had no outward beauty to attract people, but that He would be despised by many.
As the world remembers His birth, let us also remember the greatest gift of all: His sacrifice for our sins. He only requires our obedience, that we too, die to our sins, and raise up a new creation through baptism. Do you need to open His gift?