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Cindy’s gift is best unopened

Four years ago, a student named Cindy gave me a birthday gift wrapped in handmade wrapping paper that was so lovely that I decided never to open the gift.

Cindy, it turned out, was fine with this. The suggestion actually brought a huge smile to her face.

This decision has upset quite a few students since that time. To think that we don’t know and will never know what is hiding under that wrapping paper makes a large percentage of my kids (and even some adults) crazy, but I love this unwrapped gift so much.

Watching my students suffer with the perpetual, unyielding suspense of the gift is also great fun.

An unintended bonus.

But even when the wrapping paper is less original and less lovely, I’ve always adored the unwrapped gift. Opening a gift is exciting and sometimes surprising, and the actual gift hiding beneath the wrapping paper is often delightful, but it also stops being a mystery once it’s opened.

All the suspense and wonder is gone.

The unopened gift represents the unknown. It’s bursting with potential and possibility—suspense incarnate—and almost vibrates with uncertainty.

After it’s opened, all that emotion, expectation, and wonder is gone. Instead, it becomes another object in your life, quickly incorporated into the landscape of your daily existence. Some of those gifts will admittedly remain joyous and wondrous and continue to make your heart leap every time you see or use them, but many will become lost amongst the many other objects and things that fill a home and a life.

But this gift—unopened and unknown—will never stop being special.

Thank you, Cindy, for allowing it to remain so.