The Gift

There it was.  Wrapped in bright, shiny, red paper with a fancy bow on top.  It’s been under the Christmas tree forever or only a few hours.  The waiting kills me, always has.  All these barriers between now and then.  We still haven’t eaten.  Dessert takes forever.  I sure hope that no one wants coffee.  That only drags it out with your choice of sugar and what type of milk.  Whatever happened to just a quick cup of black coffee?

A gift is a special occasion.  It’s the surprise, unspoken communication between the giver and the receiver.  The only control was the purchase.  What happens when opened is open to anything.

The laughter and the chatter (some you hear, others you over hear) continues, a suspension of life in this small, allotted time.  It’s time spent with friends that becomes even more precious as the years run together.  It’s still there under the Christmas tree.  Someone put another gift on top of it.  That means a further delay.  Maybe I shouldn’t have had that cup of coffee.  I’m getting nervous.  The friends I asked told me what they wanted.  “Nothing fancy, just small things,” they all said to appear humble and unassuming.  No gift would have been all right but we were expected to bring one to exchange.

Have you ever reached a point in time when time just stopped?  The guests are all mingling and doing their party-type thing but you somehow find yourself stepping back and observing it all.  In your mind you are filming this gathering, like a director only without you directing.  It’s happening before you and it is happening now.  It will not be duplicated again like this, ever.  It may try to repeat itself but can never duplicated.  I see my gift now, two gifts deep under the Christmas tree.

Time finally resumes.  Bathroom visits are completed and people seem ready for what I wanted since I’ve arrived.  What?  Is that a third gift hiding mine?  Now they’ll never see it.  It’s what I’ve been waiting for.  Does mental telepathy help as I transmit my gift’s description to the one in charge?  “It’s the gift wrapped in the bright, shiny red paper with the fancy bow on it,” I keep repeating knowing that she’s over there laughing and missing my sonic message.  The laughter grows louder as each gift is presented and quickly ripped open.  Academy Awards could be given for the facial expressions; wondering whether the gift is truly accepted or just acknowledged.

“It’s the red wrapped one,” I say to myself as more time passes and the guests seem to grow restless.  “It’s the one behind those two.  I’ll quit smoking if it’s handed out now!” I murmur to God knowing Him doesn’t believe me either.  Within a single moment all my waiting is captured in a moment.  Presented by the host.  Carefully unwrapped by the recipient.  The surprise look looks authentic as I smile to myself and feel a warming in my heart.  He liked it.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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