How to wrap a kayak

Published 8:58 pm Monday, January 3, 2011

To the Editor:

For a man who never has a wish list, my husband has a gift for finding himself the perfect present. This holiday season he had a neon blue, ten-foot long kayak delivered to his office. And because he loves me, my kayak, a slightly shorter version of his in reddish-orange, was sitting right beside his. In that color, even if I sink my love boat, he cant lose me. The trouble, other than finding water nearby, was keeping the secret from me about my gift. I pray he calculated for drain plugs and flare guns in his excitement.

Obviously, I saw both of them when I came skirting around the corner of the office building. My husband was actually disappointed that Id discovered his surprise, though, for the life of me, I couldnt imagine how he plotted to hide this from anyone. My very first thought, once I spied the paddles, was, how in the world do you wrap a kayak?

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As visions of all the Christmas responsibilities danced through my head, I began thinking about the significance of getting a kayak for a present instead of, say, a necklace or a set of pots and pans. Having pushed the boat into my slightly-too-short vehicle and driven off to try and also fit my smallest child into the car for the school pick-up, I grew a ponderous wonder in the concept of true gift giving.

It would seem that a kayak might be an analogy to the entire year we live in preparation for one really big holiday. As Christmas approaches, and the New Years resolutions begin to take form, we reflect on all the days weve lived just to get to these celebrations.

Like stocking stuffers, our days leading up to the larger-than-life day where we don our best, love at our fullest, rest from work and worship in our churches are filled with small surprises of taking our presence for granted. And no, this is not a spelling error. Our presence is a present. Our health, our families, our every breath is a gift hidden inside the stockings of life where we work and live and fill ourselves with to-dos and the large priorities we all have. In this, none of us are impoverished.

We finish our year with promises to refill the emptiness in resolutions that we will usually unpack within a month or two of making them. Oh, how do you wrap an entire year of blessed days into one really big holiday called Christmas?

In taking measurements of the kayak, and trying to determine how much paper it would take to wrap it, I finally realized that having this present out in the open where we could see it everyday until Christmas was the best way to celebrate this gift. Besides, it wasnt as if my husband had been surprised by a kayak being delivered to him after all of those phone calls!

Much as our salvation was delivered to us by our King, and with it, the daily bread by which we are fed, our joy should be in the open where we live it everyday of our lives. Like the beauty of the earth, lived in daily splendor, Christmas is the culmination of day to day preparation that is celebrated in the true love and charity that was born in our souls and lives, moment by moment, to our purpose under God.

Christmas is meant to be a gift left out in the middle of our lives where no one can walk past us without seeing that it is there, a present too immeasurable to wrap into one, twenty-four hour time frame. Our resolutions are the bows we pull from the boxes we put ourselves in, the confinement of our limitations when we forget the true spirit of giving and benevolence for our neighbors, family, and yes, even strangers.

My kayak sits next to my husbands, under our tree, where the reddish orange boat is too large to avoid thinking about and where we all sit and marvel at its size and future potential. Our animals have gotten into them as a means to traverse the living area and resolutely sit there looking a bit like Noah and the Ark of the Bible. They remind us that safe harbor is within a horizon we can see by our faith and that getting in the boat is the first step around the living area to the place we are trying to get to.

Wrapping a kayak would be about as possible as a single star acting as a GPS for three wise men coming from the east to visit a baby born in a stable, yet, with both in the hands of God, they have direction to a bigger picture.

It is my hope that all of us get a really large kayak at some point in our life. One that makes us wonder how we will wrap it and brings us to the conclusion that some things arent meant to be surprises. I hope its reddish-orange so someone will find us if we sink.

My gift this year wasnt a boat, though the one I have will hopefully float after launching. My gift was wondering how to wrap a kayak and a thought that traveled to being a vessel that carries my God.

Colleen Carey