19 Dec Unwrapping It All
Christmas was always well-celebrated in my home, and since the time I was very small, I knew that presents were opened on Christmas Day only after we attended mass – no debate. It never seemed to be a big deal when I was younger, but the year I was thirteen something changed.
That was the year, that for some reason, I developed an overwhelming need to know what was in those wrapped boxes before the big day. I wasn’t expecting some great gift – it was just the idea that there were all these unknowns waiting to be discovered sitting right in front of me. So strong was the sentiment that I launched my own stealth campaign of secretly unwrapping and then rewrapping the presents under the tree. The guilt of my transgression did not keep me from continuing the process one package at a time in the days leading up to Christmas. I got so carried away, I even unwrapped the presents that weren’t for me.
I was terrified my secret campaign would be discovered – I can’t imagine my mom didn’t know when she saw the reused pieces of tape. Come Christmas morning, I felt guilty, and I don’t think I ever did that again, but, for that short period of time, curiosity reigned supreme.
Not long ago, I was reading a collection of short stories by this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Kazuo Ishiguro, when a particular quote jumped out at me:
“… we have to take our courage in our hands and we unwrap ourselves…unsure what we will find underneath.” (Nocturnes, p. 213)
How appropriate for this season of wrapping and unwrapping things!
It’s not just presents that come wrapped up in layers waiting to be opened. Most of us have many layers of wrapping in one form or another.
The inner layers were likely applied by others – parents, society, culture, friends, educational systems. They were meant to protect us, shape us, and help us develop the way that we are viewed by the world. At some point, we may have chosen to shed some of that wrapping, or maybe we liked the way we looked in it and decided to keep it on. Perhaps we felt it was just too hard to take off; we didn’t know what we would replace it with.
You likely now are wearing wrapping that you yourself have chosen. Practices, habits, belief systems, lifestyles, labels–are often all based on decisions you have made about how you want the outside world to see you.
But, sometimes, if that wrapping stays on for too long you forget what is really underneath. You can shake the package a bit, but that is not always going to give you an accurate picture of what is really inside.
Unfortunately, over time, we may lose that youthful curiosity that drives us to want to rip all the wrapping off as soon as possible in a need to discover what is inside. Perhaps, as time passes, we be afraid that we won’t like what we find. Or maybe, we tell ourselves we are too old to go through the process.
As 2017 draws to an end – for better or worse – we will be urged to make resolutions, promises, and commitments to ourselves and others. There will be toasts and resolutions as we prepare for the unknown next chapter of life that awaits us all.
Why not spend some of this time thinking back on how you have or haven’t changed over this past year? How are these changes going to help you tackle what is ahead?
My challenge to you this month is to spend some quiet time reflecting about what you have under all those layers of wrapping. Is it time to take some of those layers off? If you were to unwrap yourself, what do you think you would find?
Once you get the old wrapping off, how are you going to re-wrap yourself up? Remember, you get to choose what you put on.
Enjoy the process – you may be more excited than you expect to be at what you discover.
However you celebrate, I wish you the blessings of the holiday season.
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