1. It will destroy your soul.
Granted, there was a time and place when I greatly enjoyed swaddling carefully-selected gifts in whimsically-printed paper. I would spend hours ensuring that each box o’ joy was so meticulously enshrined in festive wrapping that angels would descend from Heaven and sing praises about the craftsmanship. That is no longer the case. Now I just want the dang things done and shoved under the tree as quickly as possible.
2. The discreet use of tape is highly overrated.
I used to be an acolyte of the school which believed that if you could see the Scotch tape lovingly applied to yuletide packages, then you just didn’t care enough. The tape should be placed so precisely that the gift recipient would swear that artisans of great fame were responsible for the finished product. But I dropped out of that school. Now the tape is used as a binding tool, physically forcing the wrapping paper to do what I want it to do, even if it means we end up with weird wads of paper mashed into the ends of the package.
3. I can no longer cut in a straight line.
Another skill that has eroded over time is the ability to slice off the required bits of wrapping paper at perfect 90-degree angles from the baseline, thus ensuring that the next person to use the tube of paper has a clean and geometrically-pleasing starting point. My snipping with the scissors starts out swimmingly for the first few inches, but then things go terribly awry and I end up with a ragged edge that looks like the San Andreas Fault. My partner is not amused, and there are heated discussions.
4. I apparently had a fetish concerning the purchasing of “after-Christmas” discount wrapping paper at some point.
We have tons of this stuff. There are countless bins of paper that I don’t even remember buying, shoved into random corners of the attic. I think it’s fair to say that I won’t need to purchase more wrapping paper until 2027. And some of the patterns I picked out? I have no idea what inspired me to purchase the New Kids on the Block “Figgy Pudding Tribute” roll of paper. Maybe I had bronchitis.
5. The TO and FROM areas on gift tags are entirely too small.
Dear low-paid people who make these tags: Not everybody in America is named “Ann” or “Biff”. Expand, please. And while you’re at it, quit making those glossy tags where the ink smears and it looks like I have some motor-skill issues.
6. I have lost interest in bows.
These things just irritate me now. Visiting the past again, I actually used to make bows, using rolls of ribbon and this plastic thing with spokes. After several hours of threading and twisting and copious epithets, I would suddenly and magically be the proud owner of several intricate displays of glossy art, treasures that would send Patti LaBelle running to the nearest hair salon.
I don’t do that anymore. In fact, I don’t do bows at all. Just flat packages, because the bows are guaranteed to get crushed when you cram all those presents in the back of the car and drive 20 hours to the house of the relative who is hosting this year’s awkward, wincing marathon of a gift-exchange extravaganza. Nobody likes smashed gift-toppings. Save yourself the pain.
7. There’s no shame in random gaps in the wrapping.
So the square of paper that you just cut out is apparently FUBAR and doesn’t adequately hide the entire thingy you are trying to cover? No worries. Just make sure that critical words on the packaging are nicely obscured, and you’re good to go. It’s not like anybody is actually going to care, what with the entire planet now being afflicted with attention-deficit disorders of one kind or another. They’re just going to rip the thing open, squeal with fake Southern Belle delight, and then toss the thing aside and never look at it again. At least you didn’t waste any time putting a bow on it.
8. I made the mistake of actually sitting on the floor while doing the wrapping.
This would not have been a problem in my more limber years. But as we all know, things and bodies don’t work quite the way they used to function. Once I was in the lower altitudes, I was pretty much staying there unless a fire broke out in the house. So there I am, wallowing around on the floor, grunting and trying to reach for the next present that needed to be wrapped, only to discover that I had stupidly placed it way on the other side of the room. (Related Side Note: How is it that the scissors that you just used disappear the instant that you set them down and you have to search for five minutes every time you need them?)
And when I needed a fresh beverage? It quickly became clear that I had made a serious error in assuming a compromising position. Try convincing Scotch the Cat to go get Daddy another beer. The success rate with that endeavor often leads to disappointment, hurt feelings on both sides, and a parched status bordering on hospitalization. (That ungrateful little hairball launcher better shape up or there’s going to be a harsh performance review in his future.)
9. Some companies maliciously create products that are difficult to wrap.
Why can’t they just put the item in a standard box and be done with it? Doesn’t that make more sense for everybody? But noooo, these evil manufacturers insist on the most jacked-up packaging they can design, with odd angles and things that stick out and sharp pointy bits that will rip the wrapping paper to shreds. I think these companies should have to pay hefty government fines until they knock it off and act right.
Yes, I know that I could just put the unruly gift into a wrap-technician-pleasing box and go from there. But it’s a known household fact that you can never find a box when you need one. Two days ago, of course, there had been hundreds of empty boxes all over the house, tossed in piles by irresponsible people who didn’t care. This led to me bellowing “who the hell left these boxes EVERYWHERE!”, followed by a very quiet evening meal where the perpetrators did not care to speak to me after I made them haul the boxes to the trash. Clearly, I wasn’t planning ahead.
And I could also take advantage of those “holiday” gift bags, with their symbols of high-cholesterol Santas and fornicating reindeer. But using a gift bag just seems like a cop-out to me. The bags might as well come printed with a disclaimer stating “It’s two in the morning, I’m tired of wrapping, so I’m just going to throw your over-priced Pier 1 ornament into this bag and cram some tissue on top of it. I still love you, though. Kiss, kiss.”
Maybe it’s that tissue paper that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can never get that crinkly mess to look right. Some folks are a wiz at it, sculpting delicate snow angels and an origami Baby Jesus out of the stuff. My tissue paper looks like I ran over it in the driveway and then shoveled it into a designer bag featuring dancing chipmunks and special dots that, if you scratch and sniff, smell just like fruitcake.
10. Despite all of the above, I actually do like to wrap Christmas presents.
I just have to force myself to set aside a big chunk of hours and pick a room where I can seal myself off from the rest of the house and all those prying eyes. (“Yes, you were trying to peek, now get out of here you wretched little urchin.”) I also have to make sure I have everything I need so I don’t wander out of the wrapping chamber and get distracted by things like a Will & Grace rerun or a couch that is begging me to sit on it for a while so it can feel loved again.
Oh, and at some point I must play the entire “Christmas Portrait” album by The Carpenters. It’s not the holidays without it, and it takes me back to those innocent, less-bitter, child-eyed times when I really did care about not being able to see the tape on the packages as I wrapped up the tiny, dime-store goodies I had carefully picked out for my family after I saved my allowance for months and months.
And that Carpenters strategy worked just fine this evening. I managed to get twenty gifts prepped and ready to go, an admirable amount if I do say. But now I have to get up off this floor, and that’s going to take a while. Thankfully, I was able to convince Scotch (who had heard the rumors about his next performance review) to bring me my laptop so I could blog about my experiences while I build up the strength to get back on my feet.
(Originally posted in “The Sound and The Fury” on 12/16/11 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 12/29/13. Some changes have been made as I’m really trying to control my tendency to create run-on sentences but something tells me this will be a curse that I have to live with forevermore and I will just have to be a brave little toaster and accept the fact that I often don’t use periods when a period is something that the reader is really aching for because they are out of mental breath and they don’t remember what I said at the beginning of this sentence because it has gone on for two days now and they just want to be released from this run-on hell.)
P.S. Thanks for reading this far. In case you were wondering, the photo above is just part of the Christmas village I created the year I wrote the “Village of the Damned” series. I was clearly obsessed. There has been counseling since.