For years when I was a little kid I was a huge fan of Ann Landers. Often, being a typical know-it-all kid, I thought I could give much better advice. In fact, I really thought I could be good at it and wanted to have my own advice column when I grew up. Many times though, I thought she was brilliant and I loved when she really slammed someone who desperately needed a good chewing out.
I remember one letter written by a woman who was apparently highly upset that a relative of hers (daughter-in-law maybe?) wrapped Christmas gifts very poorly, in her opinion, and to her this was absolutely horrible, was a sign of laziness, lack of good breeding, lack of caring for one’s family and just generally ruined the entire holiday. I can’t remember the details, rather more the impression I got from it. Of course Ann put the woman in her place, as she always did so well.
I hope no one ever judges my gifts, and the feelings behind them, by the wrappings. I do enjoy wrapping gifts and I put some effort into it but I am rarely able to make them look neat and perfect. Well, never perfect but on rare occasions fairly neat. I prefer papers with an old-fashioned, traditional look, though sometimes I buy shiny, metallic wrap. I usually don’t use bows. They make packages look pretty and festive but they also make stacking them under the tree a little more difficult. The bows just get crushed.
Sometimes I wrap oddly shaped items as is but I prefer to use boxes so everything is as easy to wrap as possible and comes out looking reasonably neat and rectangular just like on a greeting card. I buy a few gift boxes but I mostly use whatever I have on hand. I use all kinds of boxes. A few times, when desperate for something to wrap a small gift in, I’ve even used match boxes and macaroni and cheese boxes and the like. I wonder what the aforementioned stuffy old biddy would have thought of that. This year I didn’t have many boxes saved. The mail order companies have been shipping most stuff in large envelopes and heavy duty plastic bags lately and this leaves me with fewer nice, free gift boxes.
Today I wrapped the last of the Christmas gifts. They’re all under the tree except for those we’re going to haul over to the relatives on Christmas Eve. Some of those are in fancy little gift bags. Those are nice for when you’re just going to hand something to someone and they’re going to open it immediately.
It’s funny how Christmas has changed for me. I was like any other kid – eagerly looking forward to Christmas morning, so desperate for the day to finally arrive I thought I would burst. This continued even into adulthood but sometime along the way I changed and now I spend almost no time thinking about what I want or what I might get. Of course I’m sure I would be sad if I got nothing because then I would feel like nobody cared but I’m not at all concerned about what I’m getting. In the days leading up to Christmas what I am most looking forward to is seeing my family open their gifts – seeing their surprised, and hopefully happy, faces. I enjoyed the shopping, now I’m enjoying looking at the shiny, colorful, somewhat sloppily wrapped packages under the tree and I’m looking forward to the smiles and laughter. That’s what makes a perfect Christmas.