I love wrapping presents. I know a lot of people hate it , and will happily pay someone else to do it for them. But I truly enjoy the process of picking paper and ribbons I love, and putting together a present that is as fun to look at as it is to open. My mom is an expert gift wrapper, and I used to spend hours watching her wrap stuff for holidays and birthdays, and I learned a lot – everything from how to perfectly trim the paper to make tidy corners on the package to how to tie all different types of bows with actual ribbon, as opposed to relying on a bag of half-mashed stick-on bows.
When I was growing up, my dad would take me and sister with him to shop for my mom, whether it was Christmas shopping, Mother’s Day shopping, or birthday shopping. He would ask her for a list of stuff she wanted, and she would provide one, but would always hand it over saying, “Those are just some ideas, don’t get everything on the list.” My dad would agree, and then as soon as we were in the mall, he would say, “We’re getting everything on this list – your mother deserves it.” Granted, my mother was super practical and easy to please – she wasn’t asking for Louis Vuitton handbags or diamond necklaces. She actually struggled to come up with something she wanted every year. I remember getting her lots of new bathrobes, nightgowns, slippers, jigsaw puzzles, perfume, the occasional album, and sometimes things for her kitchen. We’d haul everything home, and from around the time I was in fifth or sixth grade, my Dad put me in charge of wrapping everything and putting it under the tree. Having spent so much time watching my Mom wrap, and with a big pile of gifts to practice on, I quickly became an expert wrapper myself.
Every Christmas season I’ve loved the day I go to the store to pick my holiday wrap palette, and will spend a good hour debating between different combinations of wrap, ribbon, and tags. I’m fussy about the paper I buy for sure – I hate cheap, thin paper, or the kind that feels like newsprint and tears super easy while you’re wrapping with it. I also hate that weird foil paper that slides all over the place and won’t make good corners. I hate the paper that comes on a roll but is two stupid separate sheets that you have to tape together to cover a large box, instead of a continuous roll. I tend to overbuy on paper, so there is always some left over the following year, but I never really have intentions of using it, because it’s not part of the new palette and OH MY GOD IT’S SO LAST YEAR – LITERALLY. And yet, I never throw it out either.
Ron tends to go out and buy separate paper to wrap the presents he buys for me – I think one year he used some paper I had planned to use for a present I was going to wrap, and when I discovered it was gone I was a bitch about it and now he’s afraid to touch any of it – the old stuff or the new stuff. Ron does not have my scruples around paper quality, so he will frequently come home with a roll of the newsprint or foil type stuff, or in a weird pattern I don’t like, so after he’s wrapped his stuff for me in it, whatever is left will remain unused, because he will totally forget it exists, and I will see it in the cupboard and reject it because…I have standards.
But wrapping supplies can be expensive, and we have lots of odds and ends to use up. So this year, I’m forgoing my usual paper buying indulgence and using up everything we already have before I buy more. And to be honest, we have so few gifts to wrap this year, and so many leftovers–some I like and some I hate–that we probably won’t need to buy anything new this year. It makes sense to me financially and from a clutter perspective, but it does kind of bum me out. I’ll miss my little paper buying ritual this year. And I’ll probably be disappointed in the way our gifts look. But I have promised myself that once it is all gone, I can buy this really cool wrapping paper I saw that isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s beautiful and high quality and will work for a multitude of occasions. I would rather have one small supply of really good paper and a few different colors of beautiful satin ribbon that I love and can use for anything, than the weird hodgepodge of stuff we have now.
And yes, I know it is pretty trivial to be whining about not liking my wrapping paper when a lot of people can’t afford to buy presents this year- or maybe even food or heat or shelter for that matter. I am lucky and grateful that these are my problems this holiday season.