The Gift

We’ve all opened a present that was well wrapped only to discover it was not our size, colour, style, etc. It was not what we wanted, needed or even should have received. If you have brothers like mine, you may have received a gift that reflected little or no thought as to how the actual present was wrapped. On a good day you may get it in the actual bag in which it came in. But whenever I opened the bag it was always what I wanted and needed.

Relationships and finding partners are akin to getting presents. Too often, when we are younger we look at people and admire them for their physical attractiveness or social skill. We are too often impressed with the wrappings and assume the content will be as good as the presentation. We think the inside should be a reflection of the outside. It can be, but it does not mean it will be. We spend so much time looking at the outer package and admiring it. It’s like a beautiful flower, or a centrepiece on a table. It grabs your attention and lights up the room. The flowers can look real, but when you get close and touch it you realize it’s made from plastic.

It’s totally natural to be enticed by external beauty. The famous poet Keats said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” However, I have often found that opening presents that are so well wrapped with ribbons and bows galore are the most difficult to open. They take longer and often I end up cutting my finger as I try to pry it open. Presents that are out in the open, at which you can peak at from a distance, are straightforward and honest. You know what you are going to get.

Another famous saying I’ve heard is that “beauty is a curse” and it can be the case … for both parties. If you have it, then there is a tendency for the individual not to develop the inner package. They get to the front of the line simply because of the packaging. They are always getting by because they appear enlightening and delightful. Generally, there can be no pressure for them to work hard since the world gives them easier opportunities as doors open, or the table is cleared for them to sit at. This judgement can work in their favour but also against the individual who has really more depth than what may be attributed to them falsely.

On the contrary, if you don’t have the external beauty, then society can give that individual the backseat in the room and sometimes no seat at all; you are left standing alone. Both individuals have to work to get to their rightful place of importance. Strength, honesty, sincerity, and integrity are merely a few characteristics that help build the inner package for an individual to deserve to be at the front of the line. Prejudgement and pre-expectations in either respect can be disappointing and disheartening for all, and doesn’t serve a greater purpose.

As a father I want my children to develop the inner package so they are truly beautiful on the inside in a way that adds value. I don’t want them to be deceived by the illusion of external beauty, a task often much harder than merely building a good package. My father often told us, “All that glitters is not gold,” and this is true. It’s often hard to go behind the illusion and see the inner workings to find the real mechanism behind the person. The packaging distracts us from finding the soul, finding the true character. Finding what matters. So I will also remind my children that the same consideration should be given to people who were not blessed with the fancy wrapping paper. Give them a chance to show the real light that shines from within, for after all, even diamonds come from coal.

The ability to know the inner person is really what sustains life and relationships. External packages, as beautiful as they are, do eventually unravel. The ribbons are so silky and slippery they eventually slip and slide. The paper wears out over time. The box that you eventually open, if it’s empty, leaves you disappointed. You have nothing that can carry you or enlighten you, and you will want that long after the wrapping paper is gone, left or ignored.

Knowing this is important; if you were graced with beautiful external packaging, you must work on putting something valuable inside. Something you’ve created or developed. Conquering laziness. Acknowledge you’ve been blessed to have a face that can open doors or launch a thousand ships, but don’t sit back and wait for your suitor. Now, on the contrary, if you didn’t come with the fancy packaging, then what you put inside and develop will shine through and enhance the external package. The people who are lucky to discover this earlier in life are truly blessed as this is the real treasure.

I believe people really want good presents more than they want good packaging. That is the true meaning of a gift. The packaging is enticing for short term, but the inner workings and contents are forever and more valuable than the beautifully wrapped present. After all, how many people save the wrapping paper?

My advice to my children and to yours, when looking at presents, is be careful and take a good look for what’s inside. When creating your own present make it a gift, because a real gift is after all what we all want. Real gifts last forever and leave a footprint even after they are no longer in the present.