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'twas the night before...


It is the night before Christmas.
I have the jitters.
Mid-torso butterflies,
spurts of adrenaline that make my heart beat faster.
I hold my breath without meaning to.  1......2.....3......4 (exhale)

I am 10.
I have hand-picked a small brown doll with eyes that shut when she sleeps
and wrapped it carefully in newspaper for my sister.
My fingertips are still inky from the exercise -
hiding the gift in smudged paper
in order to more splendidly reveal my timid, thoughtful attempt at generosity.
Will she love it as much as I want her to?
Will I have brought her joy
not only for a few moments
but for days and weeks to come?
I wait for her to pull open the grimy paper and get a peek inside.  1......2......3......4 (exhale)

Anticipation.
The knowledge that something is about to happen.
Something exciting
and definitely good
but unpredictable and maybe a teensy bit messy
because somehow it will change my world
in ways I can't quite imagine.
To become better than it was before, yes always better
but more complicated, too.
I am waiting for something to appear. 1......2......3......4 (exhale)

I was 10.
I remember knowing more about wholehearted giving than I do now:
more about anticipating without fear
more about receiving with joy and wonder
I remember unwavering belief that givers were good and dependable.
I remember caring for my gifts with tenderness:
eating with them
carrying them in my pockets
sleeping with them
dressing them in makeshift clothes
kissing them
because they belonged to me.
They were mine.
And I loved them.
I think even before I opened a single box or unwrapped a single present
I already loved them.
I was just waiting for them to appear.  1......2.......3......4 (exhale)

Jesus.
Humble Jesus.
In inky, smudgy, wrapping paper.
Waiting to appear.
Waiting to be recognised.
Will I love him as much as he wants me to?

the photo:  a box of my favourite tea wrapped in newspaper.

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