I’ll be the first to agree that Christmas is not all about the presents.
Except, you know, let’s be honest. No matter how devoutly you celebrate the birth of Christ (and yes, He wasn’t actually born in December, and much of what we celebrate comes from a Church-power-play co-opting of pagan rituals, and personally, I celebrate his birth every day so I don’t really get all that tweaked by Santa this time of year anyway), it is LARGELY about the presents. Especially if you have kids. And relatives. And friends.
I wish wrapping was an aerobic exercise because I would have burned ALL my Christmas food calories and then some this year if it were. Sore feet and back (and papercuts) aside, however, I must admit that wrapping is actually one of my favorite parts of the process.
This goes back to my childhood. I love surprises. I hate knowing what is in the present ahead of time; my family is the same way, so over the years we developed an ever-increasing repertoire of ways to disguise gifts. We did the small-gift-in-a-big-box, the tape-toilet-rolls-to-the-outside-to-disguise-the-shape, the throw-a-handful-of-pebbles-in-the-box-to-make-it-rattle. We even did the there-is-no-possible-way-to-wrap-this-neatly-so-it’s-just-going-to-look-like-crap wrap.
One of the fun things about wrapping is the whole secrecy thing – locking the door to the bedroom, only letting certain people in the room. It’s a little difficult when you share a room with your husband, though, and you need to wrap his gifts. Luckily my husband is very focused on whatever is right in front of him much of the time, so this year I perfected the art of wrapping his gifts right in front of him. I even took a little item he bought for himself right out of his hand (“Oh, cool, can I see that?”) and went straight over to the wrapping paper and wrapped it up, while asking him questions about something else. He didn’t even notice. It made for a good laugh Christmas morning.
There was one gift I wrapped for him while he was in the kitchen making me a cup of tea (I know, I know. What a guy). I felt like living on the ragged edge of disaster right then, so I left the door open and started wrapping his main gift. I could hear him out there, but I knew that at any minute he might walk back to the bedroom, so I tried to stay calm and hurry.
Okay, that’s just not possible. For me, anyway. You know those spy TV shows where the spies are breaking into someone’s safe or computer and the owner is walking down the hall and putting their key in the lock, so the spy has to hurry, and they act all cool and methodical and get the job done and dissemble completely when the person walks in the room? Yeah. I could never be a spy. My hands were shaking. I dropped the tape at least twice. I kept doing breathing exercises and telling myself to calm down and talking myself through the process, but my heart was going a mile a minute and my brain clicked into slow-mo mode.
But you know, when you have presents to wrap for 13 relatives and about as many friends, you take your excitement where you can get it.
A couple of years ago we ended up wrapping the kids’ gifts until midnight Christmas Eve, and I was getting pretty punchy. After 10:30 p.m. the wrapping jobs and gift tags began to degenerate. I present here a photo-documentary of my slide into befuddlement.