I can’t think of any punishment worse than having to wrap Christmas presents. I feel as if it is my penance for all the sinning I have done all year long, but gives me a clean slate to start fresh the next year. It is something that should be fun and joyful, but it’s more like someone is slowly stabbing me in the back of the neck with a really dull knife. I have actually thought about coming up with a proposal to the military about terrorists, if you really want to punish them stick them in a room with a thousand gifts and make them wrap them all. We could get all of their deepest, darkest secrets in no time along with their insight on what a bunch of dumb asses we are for this ritual we put ourselves through annually.
It starts out well, even fun. I make a cup of coffee, turn on some music, survey all the gifts and consider the happiness it will bring to my kids, well for a couple of hours anyway. In the beginning I am careful and neat, I actually take the time to measure the wrapping paper. I make sure that the paper is folded neatly into pretty pressed corners. I smooth each piece of tape down so it appears invisible. I take great pride in what I am doing and my labor of love shows in the packages I wrap.
Fifteen minutes later…
All that love and caring are out the window and I am wrapping presents with a vengeance and I get sloppier as I go. I convince myself that the kids spend no time admiring the work I put into the gifts they can’t wait to rip open. Seriously, what made me think the kids would pay attention to the perfectly folded hospital corners and what’s more, why? I am irritated with myself for lacking common sense and I consider becoming Jewish as well. As time goes by I start just rolling gifts in the paper and haphazardly slapping tape where ever two ends come together. At some point, I had a three inch gap in one of the gifts and I actually took a piece of different colored wrapping paper and patched it. I work furiously until I am done and then I swear that next year the kids are getting about a third of what they got last year (P.S. I said this last year also). By the way, has anyone seen my husband?????
Fast forward to wrapping gifts with the kids last night. My oldest must have made 10 attempts to cut out wrapping paper to fit one gift, and none were sufficient to cover it. I now have ten pieces of random paper that fit nothing and I am down to my last couple of square yards of paper and 15 gifts to finish wrapping. The kids continually misplace the scissors, the pen and the tape and then get into a screaming match about who had it last and whose fault it is. I finally declare that I will be the only one handling scissors and cutting the paper and that they need to check out the tape and pen with me. They start to whine about how boring this task is and I tell them they are having fun, they just don’t know it and to close their mouths and finish their work.
We are finally done and the kids decide to go tell their dad they have finished wrapping his gifts. Now I warn them and remind them not to talk to daddy about this because they will unintentionally spill the beans, as they always do. My warnings fall on deaf ears and off they go, “Daddy, we just finished wrapping your new belt and you’re going to love it! Daddy mom said to make sure we don’t tell you about the new coat we got you today.” It goes on and on until I ask them why we bothered to wrap the presents. And of course, my youngest starts crying, and goes into a meltdown when she realizes that she has told her dad what she has gotten him and begs me to take her to the store to get him a new present. Sure, I’ll do that because THIS time you won’t accidentally tell him.
I am sure at some point in my life I will figure out why we do the things we do, especially when we know they are painful and cause aggravation at the highest levels. What I really would like to do is meet the person that changed the birth of Jesus into an overload of presents and kick his ass. But for now, I will embrace this holiday and all the grief that comes with it, just so I can get those few moments of pleasure that will stay with me always. Blissful Christmas to all and to all some good grief!