Holidays

10 Things I Just Realized While Wrapping Christmas Presents

votd7-christmas-presents

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.

Cheers.

 

(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.

 

56 replies »

  1. Brian, as Michael Jackson once sang ‘youuuu are not alone’🎤
    I HATE wrapping gifts, but it seems to be my ‘job’
    Have you seen ‘Love Actually’? Rowlands Atkinson does the best ‘gift wrapping ‘performance ever!
    I once wrapped the TV remove in with a Christmas present 😱

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never seen “Love, Actually”, much to the regret of a good friend who is constantly counseling me on what movies to watch. (“Why must you insist on watching things that are dreary and subtitled? Ugh!”) But I do believe I have seen every single episode of the various Black Adder incarnations, so I hope that gives me a least a few bonus points. Since you mentioned the errant wrapping of the TV remote, I will counter-confess by mentioning that I once wrapped a box that contained a used-up tape dispenser as an additional bonus prize. Even more sad? The wee child who opened said box was much more invested in the dispenser than he was with the actual expensive gift. Sigh… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loathe gift wrapping. I used to think that I tried to give gifts early because I cared so much I couldn’t wait. Now I realize that it was actually avoidance behavior. I would hand over the gift in the original packaging or thrust hastily into a gift bag. Easy! Now that I have kids, I am forced to wrap. As a kid gift bags sucked. It was so much more gratifying to rip paper and have bits of it flying everywhere. But my gift wrapping skills have deteriorated over the years. I actually choose gifts now based on their ease of wrapping potential. My son wants a soccer ball. Ain’t gonna happen. Not for Christmas and not from Santa because mamma ain’t wrappin’ it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m right there with you, especially on the last bit. There have been times when I have raced through the 12th store in 4 days in search of a reclusive gift that one of my nieces MUST have, only to finally find it and discover that the damn package is shaped like a platypus. I then shove the cretinous object back on the shelf and pretend like we never met, pivot toward the checkout counters where I snatch up a gift card, and then I head into the night in search of a recuperative glass of wine…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll have a #8 and #10 please. Gimme the old country Christmas tunes, but hide Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” until I’m done wrapping. Tears, paper and scissors don’t mix well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christmas music can instantly change me. I can be having the worst day, bickering with innocent people because I’m not happy, and then somebody turns on some Christmas music and I instantly transform into Martha Stewart (without the superior attitude and the jail time), running all over the house and decorating every square inch. (And no, we don’t do “Hardy Candy”. Love ya, Dolly, really do, but we’re not doing that right now.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • If any candidate ever ran on a platform of forcing companies to produce items that only came in square boxes, I would instantly vote for him or her. Okay, maybe not, but I’d sure consider it… 😉

      Like

    • True enough, most kids don’t care. But every once in a while you get that artistic and fussy little boy like me. When I was a youngster, if someone handed me a gift that had been artfully swathed, with precision creases and aerodynamic corners and a lavish bow, without a hint of celluloid bondage, I would be in awe. The thought of rudely tearing into such a work of art seemed sacrilegious, and I would save that package for the very end of the gift exchange ceremony, and then I would rip into it mercilessly, because I was still a kid… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to be just as anal as you did about wrapping presents. When I got mine from Loser, he would wrap them in newspaper and masking tape.
    That display reminds me of the ones I used to put out. I loved Christmas. I would have trees even in my bathroom and I don’t mean little ones. My childrens’ friends parents used to call and ask to come over and see my decorations. LOL
    Now, all those decorations are in bins stacked up in my garage. I haven’t decorated in three years and I know I never will again.
    Why would I, when I spend all the holidays and special occasions alone? Makes sense to me.
    Maybe someday, I can write a humorous post about it. Right now, I guess I’m still too sad….but I sure enjoyed reading yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I’ll tell you a little secret. While I do enjoy it when friends and family appreciate my Christmas villages and all the decorations, I don’t actually do it for them. I do it for me. I understand that you have had some very un-good things happen in your life. I have had some of those things as well, far more than should happen to any of us. It’s not right and the pain is deep. But I refuse to let it rule me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days, but I fight it, I fight it hard. And one of the ways I do that is to go back to times and places where I was most happy. And that’s where the Christmas Village comes in. I build the village and trim the tree and put out far too many snow-scented candles because I still own that memory, it can’t be taken away like so many other things have been.

      Please don’t take my words as being patronizing or disrespectful of your situation. That is not my intention at all. I don’t know what words I can say that might help, but I’m trying. I spent many Christmases alone, long stretches of time alone, and the best way to deal with that is to not let the bad memories destroy the good. If I may humbly suggest, put out a Christmas tree this year, even if it’s just one of the bathroom trees. Get to know it again, reclaim it, mark it as your own, scrub off the bad and sprinkle it with good. This doesn’t mean that you have to forgive and forget. (Hell, there are some people that I will NEVER forgive.) But it can mean that retaking ownership of what is yours can help you get back to where you should be. Don’t let the bastards keep you down. I hope this helps in some tiny way…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for this heartfelt comment. I always decorated for my children. I wanted them to remember what wonderful times they had and I will say, at least my youngest daughter remembers.
        I used to make these elaborate quilts. I would put somebodys’ life on one. They were (and I’ll toot my own horn, which I never do) pretty remarkable. I made Loser one of his life and also one, using all of his daddys’ ties. When he told me about his WTC, he actually asked me to make him “one more quilt.” He wanted the names of all of THEIR friends’ names on it. This was while he was refusing to talk about divorce and still playing “husband” to me. He said (and also to the judge) that I had essentially given him permission to have that WTC because I knew how lonely he was.
        I have never been able to make another quilt and I never will.
        It would make me incredibly sad to decorate for Christmas, although I know what you are saying. The first year I didn’t decorate, my middle daughter refused to bring her children over to my house because I “didn’t bother to decorate.” She wouldn’t drive ten minutes to see me but she drove ten hours to spend the holidays with Loser and his WTC.
        That kind of thing…changes you.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can relate to everything you’ve said. I’ve lived it, man! This especially: “weird wads of paper mashed into the ends of the package.” That’s my patented gift-wrapping style!

    I’m very pleased to learn you aren’t largely going the gift bag route and are still doing things the gift-wrapped way. I needed to know I’m not alone in the world, dang it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Brian – Your blog was hysterical. I could really relate to your odyssey. I was never one to wrap packages well. I could never understand why people created the Mona Lisa only to have it destroyed a day or 2 later. I am one of those people that prefers to just put gifts in a bag, strategically toss colored tissue paper over it and call it a day. Great writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You made that village (or part thereof)? What and why are 2 questions that spring to mind – something to do with a blog post )or did that come after) – point me in the direction of the answers please, I must know of this insanity. (Actually I am very impressed, how much more of it was there?).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I encountered too many instances of “Oh, me too!” in this post for me to comment on just one, so I’ll just say, “Oh me too!” to all 10 points. I will say that picturing you wrapping gifts while listening to the Carpenters gives me a case of the warm fuzzies. Thank you for that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That angle with The Carpenters is a true representation of a gay man in his natural habitat. (Well, the good gays. We all know there are bad gays out there. Avoid them at all costs, because they will take you down the wrong path and serve the wrong h’ordeuvres.) Still, hearing the opening strains of the reissued, fully-orchestrated “Christmas Portrait” album makes me pee a little bit, every time… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • Then you should volunteer to make any bows I might need in the future. Because that’s what friends are for, right? Have your people send my people the deets on your availability windows, so I can track you down during my next gift-wrapping crisis… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Though I say it myself, I am a perfect gift-wrapper! My husband on the other hand is oft heard after midnight struggling with tape and newspaper because I won’t tell him where my wrapping paper is because I think the least he can do when I’ve chosen, ordered and paid for my present is buy some damned wrapping paper!!! I wrap my gifts so carefully that they can be opened and the paper reused! I make gift tags from last year’s cards, and yes, I’m with you on the paucity of space for writing: I like to write punning clues to the contents on the tags, so those tiny ones are no good at all! Merry Christmas, Brian!🎄

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bow down in awe of your prowess and skill, seriously. I once had the fine arts, but I’ve been demoted a bit since my glory days. Perhaps now that I have a bit more time on my hands, I can work on repairing my damaged reputation. (And possibly start a gift-tag business where we manufacture roomy and realistic tags) Merry Christmas to you and yours, as well!

      Liked by 1 person

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