Years and years of gifts, wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons, bows, tags, scotch tape and all the rest of
the trimmings began to take its toll on me. What am I doing, why do I put myself through this every
year, I thought as I grabbed yet another "token of my love" to wrap and decorate. The small mound
of festive packages grew larger and larger as my energy level declined in direct ration to the towering
pile. Wanting nothing more than to just lie down and take a long winter's nap, I pushed myself to
finish the task at hand. Task, which is what this entire occasion had become, no longer a joyous
celebration, but a task. How could Christmas have plunged to such a depth of despair?
All around me were signs of depression and despair. People killing each other, people killing
themselves, people just plain being cruel and acting in a manner that made one wonder what the
entire world was coming to. The entire world had turned topsy-turvy and nothing felt quite right
anymore. Where were the days of laughter and joy, the hours of friends sharing and working together
in harmony, families devoted to creating all that was good and right.
As I slowly picked up the next gift to wrap, I stopped, almost dropping the tiny glass figurine from my
hands in mid-air. "Where in the world did I ever get this from?" I wondered, as I gently turned it
round and round, running my weary fingers along its sleek, smooth curves. The crystal was
beginning to glow with each stroke of my fingers. It was becoming warmer as well. Was I just
imagining all this or had it begun to move of its own accord in my shaking hands?
I brought it closer to my face and peered at each detail. The longer I looked, the more intricate and
lifelike each part of it became. I swore I heard something, faintly at first, then increasing in volume
slowly. The tender notes swirled round my ears before sinking into my brain. The soothing tendrils of
music tantalized me. I wanted to hear more. I wanted to see more. I fought the urge to rationalize
any of this and just allow myself the luxury of just plain feeling good.
And feel good I did, for the first time in a long time. I felt content and safe and comfortable. I had no
idea why and at this point I really didn't care. I just never wanted this feeling to go away. All the
recent past distressing memories and experiences seemed so very far away. I wanted them to stay
away or better yet entirely disappear. This warm feeling which was spreading from my head and
hands throughout my body was unlike anything I had ever felt in my life. I was
strangely comforted by it. I shook my head in disbelief while hoping it wouldn't lift the veil of peace and serenity I felt
covering my entire body at this point.
Then, as quietly as it had started, it was gone and I was alone in my room with the gift in my hand
and a question left in my mind. I couldn't think whom this gift was intended for and really didn't
want to give it up now anyway. I set it to one side where nothing would fall on it and break it and
proceeded to finish my wrapping task. Task? Now why had I thought this to be a task? I was clearly
enjoying myself as I chose the perfect paper to match each gift with its
recipient. Carefully folding corners of paper down, applying tape in just the right places, then adding colorful ribbon and a bow,
I'd complete each one with satisfaction and delight. The mound of presents grew along with my
spirit. I was picturing the bright smiles on my friends and family's faces as they excitedly opened each
Gone was the dark gloomy feeling, replaced by a cheerful light-hearted glow within myself. I found
myself humming an almost forgotten holiday song. Before I knew it, the presents were all wrapped,
all but that one. I glanced to my right, reaching out as I did to once again pick it up. It was gone!
Funny, I thought, now where did I place it? I remembered carefully selecting the safest spot to put it
so as not to shatter it and now I couldn't find it. Calmly, at first, then more insistently, I began
pawing my way through the huge pile of wrapped presents, thinking I must have inadvertently
covered it up.
I placed each gift to one side, expecting to find the figurine at any moment.
Hope languished in my mind as I searched. When I had finally reached the bottom of the pile, much to my dismay, no
figurine. I was stumped, it was gone, yet the warmth from it remained. I gathered up the remains of
the wrapping paper and trimmings to put away. I found nothing there either. Somehow I must have
misplaced it. I thought to myself it will turn up sooner or later. I felt no anxiety, as I would most
certainly have felt in the past. The comforting feeling remained with me, though the figurine was
nowhere in sight.
I took my time placing the wrapped presents under my sparsely decorated tree, thinking, tomorrow I
will have a wonderful time adding more adornments to the tree. I was still humming a tune and
feeling good. Occasionally, out of the corner of my eye I would see a glimpse of a strange glow just
out of focus, then it was gone, just like the figurine.
The days passed and I thought less and less about the figurine. The depression I had felt for so long
had not returned and things that had previously set me off no longer had such a devastating effect on
me. My family and friends began to notice the change in me and commented on it. I responded with
a simple shrug of my shoulders and a smile, the figurine completely forgotten. It was a feeling of
having been reborn and I reveled in it.
Christmas Day finally arrived, as did my guests. The tree was beautiful, my house was filled with the
aroma of pine and hot apple cider. The children begged to open the gifts before eating and the adults
relented and agreed to their wishes. The smiles on everyone's faces seemed somehow familiar though
I couldn't quite place my finger on the reason why. All I knew was that this was one of the best
holidays I could remember. Presents were passed around. As each one was opened, oohhhhh's and
aaaahhhhhhhh's spilled forth from cheerful lips. I eagerly opened each of mine with excited
anticipation. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I had a notion that something was missing. I
wasn't sure what it was but something was missing.
I had remembered to put the ham in the oven, I even remembered to turn the oven on. The rest of
dinner was ready and waiting for us to ingest it. I hadn't a clue what could be bothering me. Then the
doorbell rang. I got up from my seat, midst paper and presents, to answer it as others continued to
open their gifts. I opened the door to find no one there. I glanced up and down the driveway and saw
no unrecognizable car or tracks from one. As I turned to go back inside I noticed a small package on
the steps. I picked it up and vaguely recognized a familiar glowing warmth. With a tiny knowing
smile I carefully opened the package. Sure enough, the figurine that had brought me out of my
mental stupor not long ago had reappeared, as suddenly as the first time. This time as a subtle
reminder that I was responsible for how I perceived life and how I presented myself in it. I
good-naturedly returned to the festivities, mentioning my experience to no one. Who would ever
believe me anyway? By the way, in case you were wondering, the figurine was of the baby Jesus in
his manager surrounded by his family and friends with LOVE.