The Gift

S Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph

I have a dirty little secret. Actually, it’s a rather lame and benign little secret. As a matter of fact, it’s not really a secret at all to anyone who knows me. I just thought it sounded scintillating to begin a blog admitting to a “dirty little secret.” So here it is: I am an incredibly anal gift wrapper.

Actually, anal does not even begin to describe it. I am meticulous about my gift wrapping. My “condition” affects me throughout the year. However, Christmastime is when it really comes to a head. Just ask my partner, Ruanita. She can weave some horrifying tales for you that will make you both pity and despise me. Like how I refuse to let her wrap a single gift at Christmas time. She simply does not crease the paper correctly. Nor does she use a sufficient amount of tape. Nor does she line up the striped paper appropriately. On the rare occasion that I do allow her to wrap a present, it drives me mad. My eyes cannot look away from the haphazardly wrapped box as it sits under the Christmas tree. My mind is tormented with uneven lines and creases that are not perfectly parallel. It is a constant struggle to fight the urge to unwrap it and re-wrap it the correct way. It is simply not worth the mental anguish it causes me to allow Ruanita to wrap a present.

I also insist on Scotch brand tape and ONLY Scotch brand tape for gift wrapping. Ruanita recently bought a four-pack of Target brand tape. I refused to use it and immediately went out and purchased a four-pack of Scotch tape. Hello?! Cheap tape just doesn’t cut it. Ruanita also laments the extra money I spend on “premium” wrapping paper. I refuse to buy cheap paper regardless of the pretty design. It is more than worth the additional couple of bucks for the premium paper’s heft, durability, and foldability. Doesn’t everyone know that?

So yesterday afternoon, I was feeling the Christmas spirit. I decided to wrap some family presents. In typical fashion, my five-year-old daughter, Sophie, wanted to “help” me. I couldn’t say no because she was so excited and giggly about getting out the pretty paper and bows. So I sat down in my bedroom floor and arranged my wrapping accoutrements in a circle around me. As everyone knows, it is of utmost important when wrapping a gift to have your tape, scissors, bows, ribbons, name tags, and a variety of tissue papers within arms’ reach. Sophie squatted across from me. Stella (our dog) also decided to join us for the wrapping festivities. The boys were downstairs playing the Wii and could not be bothered with holiday merriment.

As I began to wrap the first gift, I quickly realized that this was going to be an exercise in patience. Sophie immediately grabbed the paper with two hands to help me fold it over the box, wrinkling the lovely green and red design in the process. Hmmm…what to do? It went against my deeply rooted beliefs to continue wrapping a box with even slightly wrinkled paper. However, Sophie’s glee over “helping” me caused me to hesitate before ripping the paper off and tossing it in the trash. I decided to do that which was anathema to my very nature. I ignored the wrinkles and continued wrapping.

As I folded and creased, Sophie chattered on about how “beautiful” the presents would be. Her gushing was peppered with helpful hints and recommendations for me. My five-year-old daughter was trying to tell me…me!?!….how to wrap a present. I bit my tongue. I kept my mouth shut. I even allowed her to accidentally kneel on the paper I was using without tossing her headfirst down the stairs.

When the presents were wrapped, Sophie wanted to place the bows on the gifts. For the most part, I am against those cheap little bows that you can buy in a bag of 50 for 99 cents at Target. They are usually flat and warped and otherwise unattractive. I prefer to make my own bows from curling ribbon. However, at that moment, Sophie was begging to pick out the bows and Stella was happily chewing on my curling ribbon, so I gave in. Sophie chose an atrocious gold bow (actually, it was more of a dirty yellow, though I suspect it was supposed to be gold) for the first gift, which she proceeded to place completely off-center on the top of the gift. I began to reach out to move the bow to the center of the package, but stopped dead in my tracks when I saw Sophie beaming proudly at the ugly gold bow sitting atop the wrinkled wrapping paper. In the eyes of my five-year-old daughter, there had never been a more splendidly wrapped present than the one sitting on the floor in front of us. She was absolutely enthralled with the gift. And I was absolutely enthralled with her. So I left the present exactly as it was. In all of its hideous, crooked, off-center, wrinkled glory. And you know what? It IS beautiful.

Perhaps it is time to let go a bit when it comes to gift wrapping. A tiny bit.

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