Wrapped in Meaning

Mantle
Once upon a time, ages and ages ago and miles and miles away from where I now sit– a custom was born. Wrapped in the spirit of giving, tokens of appreciation were first swathed in pretty paper in Ancient China during the 2nd Century B.C.

The ritual has grown quite a bit from the fibers of bamboo, hemp, and rice straws that initially intertwined to make the first wrapping paper.

However, its sentiment is still there… what it symbolizes endures. 

Wrapped Presents

Symbols are compelling.  They speak volumes; often when we, ourselves, cannot.  They can unleash a force more powerful than our tongues and more enduring than our deeds.

There is a touch of magic in them.

While “wrapping paper” may seem an idle fancy or a product of the corrupt commercialism of a sacred holiday, it’s not because it’s not about the paper.

It’s about the wrapping.

Again, in 2nd Century B.C. it was not all about the paper, it was about the act.

Detail of Satin and Pheasant FeathersWhether you are wrapping presents in pretty paper, wrapping ribbons around your tree, or wrapping a newborn in swaddling cloths– remember that you are participating in an ancient custom inherent in the very texture of humanity and faith.

I love wrapping my Christmas tree in ribbons and ornaments. I carefully wrap and weave satin through my garlands, folding the lengths of trimming in and out of the branches. Taking time out, despite the busyness of the season, to carefully wrap the packages in “pretty paper” is rejuvenating.

It’s my moment to live in a  Willie Nelson song.

There are 4 layers of wrapping on my tree this year: plaid, wired ribbon, a thin, moss covered branch trimming, claret satin ribbon, and pheasant feathers. I hung the dark red ornaments to mirror the sweep of the wrapping.

There are 4 layers of wrapping on my tree this year: plaid, wired ribbon, a thin, moss covered branch trimming, claret satin ribbon, and pheasant feathers. I hung the dark red ornaments to mirror the sweep of the wrapping.

A close-up of the layered wrapping

A close-up of the layered wrapping

For me, it is what grounds me in the true meaning of the season. It reminds me to have faith, despite the uncertainty of this temporal world.

There is a sacredness to it. A symbol that we have been wrapped in love and promises.

It is my recreation of the gesture first given ages and ages ago, miles and miles from where I now sit:

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

 

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Olive branch garland from Ballard Designs, Antique Chinoiserie, Satin Moss Ribbon

Olive branch garland from Ballard Designs, Antique Chinoiserie, Satin Moss Ribbon

Detail of Satin and Pheasant Feathers

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