Wrapping Paper or Gift Bag?

Last week, I began a temporary assignment at a company I’ve worked for
previously.  They were having a brief afternoon gathering.  It was the
exciting, I suspect long-awaited, unveiling of the wonderful “Secret Santa”.

Ahhh, I remember my first Secret Santa experience as if it were yesterday.
I was in the 4th grade.  My “Secret Santa” turned out to be one I’d
completely wished had remained a secret.  It was a male classmate, and what
did he get me?  You’ll never guess.  Believe me you won’t, so I’ll save you
the trouble.  He got me a yellow SKULL CAP!!!  (insert lonely, leftover tear
here…)  Go ahead.  Get it all out of your system!  Ok, now pull yourself
together; it’s REALLY NOT that funny!  I can laugh about it now, but for
years I thought Secret Santa charades were the devil’s rain on our Christmas
parade.  LOL!  I wanted NO PARTS of them unless I was supplying a list.  But I

Anyway, as I watched the women in the office (of course men won’t be caught
participating in such) descend the stairs and assemble for the big reveal, I
made one very simple, very unexpected observation.  All I saw were gift
bags.  I’m serious.  I didn’t see not one gift receptacle that required
anything more complicated than “open bag, insert gift”.  No extra time

It struck me immediately, so I began to write.  Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something extra special about a gift that’s been wrapped, even
if someone other than the gift giver wrapped it.  To me, it symbolizes that
next layer of thought, those additional, sacrificed minutes of time in a
world where no one seems to have time for the little things anymore.  I
thought to myself, “Amidst the busyness of the holiday season, if we aren’t
taking time for the little things, something as simple as covering our gifts
with that extra layer of thought, are we taking time to ponder
and relish the one truly BIG THING, the true reason for the season?”  Maybe we should ask ourselves, are we giving the true meaning of Christmas the extra attention of wrapping paper or the express effort of a gift bag?
Just a thought…and a reminder….Merry Christmas!


Love Thy Nosy Neighbor?

The infamous Cinnamon Crunch Bagel....

A few weeks ago, I packed up my things and headed out to one of the local Panera Bread restaurants for a morning meeting and an afternoon of writing.  For those of you who don’t know Panera is hot spot for all types of “meeting” activities – business meetings, mommy meetings, bible study meetings.  You name it, someone is meeting about it.  And that doggone cinnamon crunch bagel is just RIDICULOUS!!!!  (And no, they didn’t pay me for that plug.  It’s just the truth!)  Armed with this knowledge, I decided to get there early, snag a good spot and do a little work until my meeting began.  Oh, the seating angels were certainly on my side that morning.  🙂  I posted up in a sweet spot, a bench seat along the wall directly facing  one of the huge windows that overlooks the patio and the street behind it.  It was a beautiful day, too!  I got comfy, put my earphones on, and bobbed my head to Anthony Evans’ new Christmas CD as I wrote a review on it.  I’m not sure which was sweeter that morning – my “office view” or the cinnamon crunch bagel I devoured.

It was a quiet corner.  Every man and woman was intently minding his/her own business until a tall, gray-haired gentleman appeared.  At first glance, he appeared friendly and thoughtfully prepared, I might add (He brought an outlet adapter so that multiple people could plug into one two outlet power source.  Thanks, mister!!).  However, I later realized that I should have taken notes from the young man parked across from me.  As soon as the older gentleman dropped off his things and disappeared to go collect his meal, this dude took off like the cops were after him.  I mean he packed up so fast it was as if he had gotten tipped off  or something.  It was really quite funny.  When the older gentleman returned, he commented, “Wow!  Was it something I said?”  I told him, “I don’t know, but he packed up pretty fast.” LOL!  I couldn’t help it.  It truly was amazing how fast this dude got out of dodge.  Later on I understood why.

You see my former neighbor must have had a radar detector that alerted him to the fact that the gentleman who had just “moved in” was going to be …DUN, DUN, DUN, DUNNNNN…a talker!  Believe me, he didn’t know the half of it!  And neither did I, but I found out soon enough.  This man sat down, positioned his “work station” and commenced to work very diligently ON INCLUDING HIMSELF IN EVERY CONVERSATION I HAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’m not kidding.  Throughout the course of my stay at Panera Bread, probably about 5 hours that day, I had 3 visitors – one meeting and 2 other friends to stop by, and I promise you this man interjected his 2 cents into each and every conversation I had.  As a matter of fact, if he’d actually given me 2 cents each time he offered up an uninvited opinion, I probably could have purchased me another bagel to go!

The real kicker came at the moment when he heard me discussing the song “Sailing” by Christopher Cross, w/ one of my friends.  We were trying to determine when the song was released.  She’s an 80’s baby, so I was commenting on how it definitely came out before her time.  Next thing I know this dude is SINGING MY SONG!!!!!!  Ok,  that’s it!!!!  If you know anything about me, you KNOW I don’t take kindly at all to a stranger singing my favorite song to me, especially w/o an invitation (which it’s doubtful I’d ever give).  LOL!

I couldn’t help but think about this man on the drive home from “the office”.  I was so amazingly floored by his constant input into my conversations throughout the day.  What was even more amazing to me was the fact that I never ignored him, not once.  Oddly, I always felt like I would somehow be rude if I did.  How does THAT work?  I thought to myself, “There has to be a moral to this story.  There’s a lesson here somewhere.  God PLEASE show me where, because I don’t see it!”  So here’s what I heard:  1Corinthians 13:13 NKJV – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these [is] love.”  Love?  You’re kidding me, right?  What’s love got…. ?  Yeah, you know the rest; you’re rocking the song in your head as you read, aren’t you?!  🙂  God didn’t stop there, though.  He knew I needed a little extra understanding, so He graciously elaborated! LOL!  Here’s what He said next:  “Love thy neighbor.”  My neighbor?  You mean that nosy guy in the corner who was ALL up in my business today?  That neighbor?

Yep!  That’s the one.  And since I’m writing a bible study on love, this lesson was obviously an important one.  The phrase “love thy neighbor” is used in the King James Version of the bible 9 times.  Here is what James 2:8 had to say, “If  ye fulfil the royal  law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.”  So there it is.  One of Jesus’ greatest commandments to us was for us to love our neighbor, even the nosy neighbor who inserts himself in your conversations at your favorite free wi-fi joint. 🙂  Guess that explains why I felt like I’d be doing something wrong by ignoring the man, huh?

When I got home that day, my sister gave me another twist on what I now call my “Panera Experience”.  Stay tuned…..

%d bloggers like this: