(This story will only make sense after reading THIS STORY.)
If this were one of the god years, as we say, way back before The Collapse, I would have spent 3 or four hours last night, on Christmas Eve, wrapping presents. It seems that everyone loved all that colored paper and ribbons and bows and name tags, but I think they forget about the paper cuts and the unfortunate tears and running out of tape, and repeatedly losing the scissors under the piles of expensive stuff, and the counting! What a chore it was to make sure each beloved child received an equal share of booty. To make one understand that his little car cost twice as much as that big doll so he had better “BE HAPPY RIGHT NOW!”
And when we sat around opening stuff to the point that everyone was overwhelmed or bored stiff; until all the comparing and contrasting replaced potential joy with kinetic disappointment; when each carefully folded and taped sheet of wrapping paper was torn asunder, and not with what purported to be a glimmer of hope, but was really a desperate dread, we would sit, snapping pictures for the scrapbook, while the real memories full of angst and frustration and jealousy, were already duly posted and forever laminated in the backs of minds all around the room. Ah yes; the god (Good Old Days)! May they never return to haunt us!
There will be no gift wrapping again this year. There is no paper. And there is nothing to give. But with great excitement and before dark, we believers will gather more openly than we’ve become accustomed to. Not only will the cellars and back rooms; the tool sheds and little caves we discovered all be too small now, but the Joy Of The Lord has been spreading this year like never before! So many of those who had found cause to suppress our supposedly misguided contentedness, have now joined us in the mysterious joy! The very streets will be full of kindly revelers, and instead of relying on snow to cover the strewn debris of a broken world, the work of God has been covering a multitude of sin with love. For every bitter heart now transformed by the renewing of the mind, a new light is shining in twice as many eyes.
While many of us were doing what we could today to reshuffle the mess in the streets into a neater mess, a dirty stranger approached with great unprotected love and gave me two dead batteries he had mined from the garbage: a C, and even a massive D battery! These presents were not bought or made and they were given me without any fancy paper covering. Instead of including the cultural elements of suspense, anticipation and surprise, I received his offering as a straightforward statement: “I will go unprotected so you don’t have to. I would lay down my life, for yours.”
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
We each grabbed a battery suddenly and were about to launch them at an approaching dog, when something strange caught our attention. He was not growling for he had been fed, and his tail was wagging. Then we laughed out loud as we realized he was only hoping for a good scratch behind the ears, and that these old batteries were now, finally, truly worthless. Later I pieced together a little shelf and set my now unneeded batteries on it by my broken front window. Long after I fixed the window, and the wall, and maybe got a chair, I know that I will still display those dead tokens of God’s unselfish love. I will show, and tell whatever Grandchildren I have all about the sacrificial love represented there. Like the baby born to a poor bedraggled girl in a stinky barn, the best gifts are freely given, and always come unwrapped.