As I sat down to write this column over the holidays. I glanced out the window. The biggest storm to hit these parts began about an hour ago and already the deck was completely covered with a fresh blanket of white flakes. Snow days are perfect days to catch up on things that you’ve been stalling on getting done.
Hubby and I decided to catch up on a little Christmas wrapping, since we were going to be stuck in the house anyway. As we surveyed the gifts we had purchased, we realized that there would not be our traditional “marathon wrapping day” this year. We were both relieved and a little disappointed. Marathon Wrap Day usually takes several hours and often results in one or both of us reaching for the Advil from standing in place for so long.
Because of the pandemic, we opted to cancel our traditional “Shop-Till-You-Drop” marathon on Black Friday. Aside from the unpleasant thoughts associated with braving overcrowded stores and malls, we realized the necessity of reining in our former spending habits when faced with a limited income. Christmas gifts would have to be creative and thoughtful, yet useful, necessary and less expensive.
Hubby suggested gift cards for all, which turned out to be an excellent idea. In a matter of minutes, we managed to purchase everyone’s gift cards on Amazon. As an “extra gift to open”, we headed to the local discount liquor store for bottles of spirits and wine. The entire process took a little over an hour, including driving time. It was the fastest “Christmas shopping” we had ever accomplished as a couple.
As the first snowflakes fell, Hubby turned on some Christmas music and lit some incense to set the mood for his favorite holiday activity. We opened gift bags, dropped cards and bottles within and the wrapping portion of the holiday was over. It felt a bit anticlimactic until my husband whispered, “What is all of this?”
Our gifts for our daughter lay in a shopping bag beneath the dining room table. As we purchased items throughout the year, we had casually tossed them into the bag without regard to what we had even bought. Steeling ourselves for the task ahead, we dragged the bag out and began the arduous task of wrapping every item. Although she is an adult, she still appreciates a well-wrapped gift. We also found the gifts that we had purchased for her boyfriend, who also celebrates his birthday on Christmas Eve.
Hubby set to the task of wrapping our girl’s items while I wrapped those for her suitor. Placed side by side, you could tell which ones were wrapped with care and which were bulging in places where they should not bulge. It certainly is not my lack of desire to make a gift look gorgeous. It is my inability to do so. Everyone is good at something. I am not good at wrapping. There, I said it. Phew.
When our daughter was old enough to realize that Santa was an idea and not an actual person, she would often glance under the tree before it was time to unwrap gifts on Christmas morning. “I know who wrapped THAT one,” she would chirp as she pointed towards what appeared to be a professional wrap job. “It wasn’t Mom.”
My mom was an expert wrapper. I used to sit at her feet and offer her strands of cellophane tape as she neatly folded and pressed every corner. Everything was beautiful, nothing bulged, and she often dressed things up with press-on silver or gold bows. She attempted to teach me how to wrap properly, but I often pulled too much paper off the roll. The excess had to be cut away, which left little jagged edges that looked messy. Everyone knew which gifts had been wrapped by Mom and which had been wrapped by me. I always said that wrapping was not my strong suit. I still say it.
Hubby taught me to fold down edges, cut precisely and how to dress up a package with curling ribbon. He took painstaking steps to match the paper’s pattern so everything blended seamlessly. Oftentimes, I hated taking apart his fine work because I appreciated the lengths through which he went to make everything lovely.
This year, we limited our gift exchange to three items, including a stocking stuffer. Since I only have a few items to wrap, I might watch a YouTube video for secrets to creating perfectly wrapped gifts. I’m wondering how many others out there are like me, leaving bulging gifts with too much Scotch tape and jagged edges along their seams. Imperfect Wrappers, Unite!
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.