Unwrap

My dear son,

We gave up wrapping papers this year. All thanks to you.

Here's how it happened. This past Christmas you asked us to throw a party. You wanted to be Santa and distribute gifts to all the guests who came. Then one day, when we were out picking gifts and wrapping papers to go with them, you asked us why we needed wrapping papers at all. Because they make the gifts look pretty, we answered. But wasn't that a huge waste of paper, you pressed further. Surely, the moment the people receive their gifts, they will rip right through the wrapping papers and throw them in the garbage. What a waste! 

So we used old newspapers to wrap the presents in, instead. You drew lovely pictures on those newspapers first, which, I thought was really sweet. It reminded me of a simple fact - that just because it is brutally honest and realistic, doesn't mean it cannot be made beautiful with a little sincere effort. Before giving out the gifts you even explained everything to the people and requested them to give up wrapping papers, as well. You were right - a tree shouldn't have to die for a reason as frivolous as fleeting beauty. It wasn't really about the merits or demerits of your act, rather the thought behind it that made us feel proud of you. I don't know if our guests followed your request. But we did, and it sure has brought about a wonderful change in our life.

And I'm glad that your seemingly simple question brought us to this profound subject - of wrapping things in shiny covers. Because you see, this isn't just a harmless one-time act. Eventually, it becomes a deep-rooted habit. One, that hardly any of us have been able to escape.

Now, I do not wish to present a bleak view of the world to you. But we do live in a world that, unfortunately, gives as much importance to wrapping papers, if not more, than what's inside. This applies to things as well as people. And it is just basic human psychology that if the world starts to care more about the outer shell of our being, we too tend to bother less and less about what we carry inside. An ornate exterior, good enough to attract attention (branded clothes, nice hairdo, rich family, expensive education, high-flying job, fancy car - the wrapping paper comes in many colors and forms, you see) invariably becomes our focus. Why bother being good when you can get more points for being pretty. Why desire true wisdom when you can get by with plagiarizing and scavenging on others' knowledge and pretend to be smart. Why be kind and compassionate when you have a higher probability of being 'liked' and 'followed' for saying something sensational, even though offensive and insensitive to someone.

You see, my boy, it also basic human nature to take the easier path. External covers and pretenses can be bought with money and are easy to put on. What is inside, though, needs years of self-reflection, hard work, and integrity. So it's no surprise that most of us pick the course we do.

Now, give this trend - fuelled by aggressive marketing and the capitalism that backs it - a free run. Add to the equation social media tools, which make it easier for people to live a virtual life completely detached, and often quite contrary, to their real self. And you have for yourself a recipe of a world that is 'all pretty wrapping papers and hardly any presents of real value'.

If a gift is thoughtful and useful, it doesn't need a pretty cover.

But I also I know what I'm feeding you right now is a utopian thought. So I must also warn you, that people have been programmed over the years to pick the shiniest and fanciest present under the tree, first. They may come for someone like you, wrapped in his own honesty, last. Or maybe, not at all. But don't you worry, my child. It isn't your job to make yourself more desirable for others. You shouldn't be driven by the purpose to be picked; and most certainly not for the wrong reasons. Remember, the attraction of the wrapping papers lasts but a few minutes. Then it is crumpled and tossed aside. But when someone picks a present for what it truly is - when there is no pretense, no false promises - there are no heartbreaks either. This present is for keeps.

I sincerely hope, my dear boy that you continue on the trend you've triggered. Of never wrapping yourself in the faux glimmer of a cover that will come to define your worth to others. Wrap yourself in old newspapers. Or don't wrap yourself at all. Who cares? The choice, my boy, is yours.

 

Love, now and forever

Your Mother

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