A few days before Christmas a young boy received a small brightly wrapped gift in shiny red paper and topped with a green bow. Its small tag read, “Do not open until Christmas.” The boy pondered what could be in the package. He shook it, but it made no sound. He pulled ever so slightly at the paper to see if he could find an opening. His father firmly told him to place the gift under the tree and leave it alone. He did so; carefully placing the gift under the tree.
But the boy’s mind would not let him leave it alone. He imagined all kinds of good things that could be in the box. Every time he thought he had it figured out a new idea popped into his head. His ideas started with what could fit inside the box but grew when he considered that what was inside could lead to something bigger like a bicycle or a playhouse. The longer he pondered the more grand and glorious the contents of the little red package with the green bow became.
Finally, Christmas day arrived in all its mystery and splendor. The little boy received many wonderful presents. Gifts of toys, games, and clothes. Soon it was time to open the small red package. He quickly tore off the green ribbon and ripped away the shiny red paper. The plain brown box beneath revealed no clues to its contents. The boy popped the single piece of tape holding the box closed. Inside the brown box was a blue velvet ring box. More ideas swirled in the boy’s head as to what was inside.
“Go on, open it,” his father encouraged. The boy carefully pulled open the lid and peered inside. At first, it appeared to be empty but then he noticed a small brown seed tucked into the slot where a ring would go. A seed had never entered his imagination or tickled his desires. The boy snapped the case shut and tossed the blue velvet box back beneath the tree and moved on to more promising treasure.
The gift was forgotten until it was time to take the Christmas tree down. But it wasn’t the boy who retrieved the blue velvet box. The father found the box and carefully tucked it away in the back corner of the boy’s sock drawer. “Perhaps he’ll want this later,” he thought to himself.
The boy grew and became a man. He attended school, played sports, went to college, landed a job, and got married. A couple of years later he was blessed with a son of his own. One warm spring day the man visited his parents. Before he left they gave him a large box. “This is your stuff,” his parents said. “Please take it home, we really need to closet space.”
Later that night as the man was sorting between treasure and junk he encountered the blue velvet box. He didn’t recall it until he opened the lid and saw the seed inside. This time he noticed a small folded piece of paper tucked into the box’s lid. The man carefully unfolded it and read, “Plant me!”
After gathering a small clay pot from the garage and some soil from his wife’s flower box the man carefully placed the seed in the soil. A few days later a spout appeared, which grew into a seedling. The man cared for the tender plant and changed its pot as it grew into a sapling. The next spring he transplanted the small tree into the backyard. As the tree grew so too did the man’s son.
A few years later the tree blossomed in the spring and produced a few large red apples in the fall. The man picked the apples and shared them with his father and his son. “When I have a son I’m going to give him apples just like this one,” the man’s son declared smacking his lips at its sweet tartness.
The man sat back as if struck on the head by one of the apples. A memory of himself saying those exact same words tumbled through his mind. The man looked at his aged father with sorrow which the father returned with a wink, a nod, and a smile.
Later the same year, near the day set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ, the man carefully placed an apple seed from his tree in a blue velvet box along with a note that said: “Plant Me!” After placing it in a cardboard box he wrapped it with shiny red paper and attached a green bow with a small tag that read, “Do not open until Christmas.” Later that day he brought the present to his son saying, “something came for you today, put it under the tree for now.”
If this was an Aesop’s fable a wise narrator would say, “and the moral of the story is…” But, this storyteller trusts the reader to find the moral; to discover the meaning of the story and the significance of the neglected seed.