It was holiday time again. Back from shopping, my sisters raced to their rooms. The sound of hushed whispers mixed with the crinkling of bags stashed hurriedly into closets. Christmas presents. The only thing they enjoyed more than shopping for them was wrapping them.
Mama taught them well. Before Christmas she cleared a table and lined up with military precision her wrapping paper, tape, scissors and ribbon. Unrolling a length of paper over the gift on the table, Mama’s keen eye determined the amount needed for perfect coverage. Her scissors sliced a cut so exact any surgeon would be jealous.
Folds and seams were flawless. The tape was snipped neatly and applied invisibly. Mama was meticulous even to the bow, another step made magically simple. Using several strips of ribbon, she gripped each between her thumb and a blade of the scissors then jerked her hand down each of their lengths. Voila! A festive cluster created by some mysterious feat of wizardry. The perfect bow of curls.
For years Mama repeated her fascinating exactness in gift wrapping and my sisters learned well. Our tree was surrounded by magnificently concealed holiday surprises but I sometimes wondered why they bothered. With paper so tightly formed around each gift it was no mystery what was inside. A book looked like a book. A box was likely a shirt. My new Frisbee was clearly just that. What happened to shaking mysterious gifts and guessing the contents? That was half the fun!
But, their wrapping efforts were works of art. My sisters took pride in their skills and enjoyed the process.
I did not.
My uneven folds and botched tape jobs were the brunt of their jokes. Not that I didn’t care about the gift wrap, but wasn’t all of this going in the trash? My sisters encouraged my efforts though I knew mine would never look like theirs.
They giggled. “Keep trying, you’ll get there.”
I tried to imitate Mama’s keen eye yet ended up unrolling enough paper to wrap any one gift two and a half times. My scissors didn’t glide through the paper, so I was left with torn and jagged edges. Folding ragged bits to hide my blunders only resulted in lumps, wrinkles and ridges. It was bad.
My tape job was worse.
Instead of tidy strips I ripped foot-long pieces knowing it would take that much to rein in my mistakes. Once under control, each of my gifts was ready for a bow. Gripping the scissors, I tried to imitate Mama’s maneuver. During one noble attempt I yanked back hard, the ribbon snapped, and I stabbed my bedroom door. The gash is still visible today.
With wrapping eventually finished, my pitiful packages were made fun of instantly. “Did you just put a bow on a ball of trash?” “Wait, that is a bow, right?” I heard it all. I could never achieve the beauty crafted by my sisters.
They giggled again. “Keep trying. You’ll get there.”
As they wrapped theirs, they chuckled about mine. Enough was enough. If my gifts brought that much Christmas joy even before being opened, then I knew just what to do.
I taped wadded scraps of paper to each gift, forming odd-shaped masses, which I then wrapped in paper ripped from the roll. Who needed scissors? Pulling a length of tape from the dispenser, I wound it entirely around what became a wrinkled blob. No worrying with folds or seams. My gifts looked like distorted little mummies ready for bows.
I decided to forego the bows.
Finally finished, I hauled the gifts to the tree and stood beside the gleaming gift wrapping of the others aligned there in symmetrical perfection. I dumped my pile of Yuletide rubble.
There, let them make fun.
One sister approached the Christmas tree and stared at my heap of colorful debris. As she reached down and grabbed one of the holiday blobs, she called to the others. I waited for their good-hearted ribbing.
“What are these?” she asked as she handed each of them a wrinkled mass.
Eyes began to widen. “Shake it!” “Shake this one!” “What could it be?” they squealed with excitement as they poked and prodded.
For days leading up to Christmas they investigated my oddball gifts. They pondered, guessed and took visiting cousins to the living room to show off the crazy presents. They found humor, not in my mistakes, but in my new style of wrapping. By Christmas Eve they admitted what fun it had already been.
My fancy designs had caused quite the stir.
“How did you decide the shapes?” “How did you make them lumpy?” They agreed that next year instead of forming smooth and perfectly wrapped gifts topped with beautiful bows they would attempt my oddly unique method.
“We’ve wrapped ours the same way for so long. Not sure we could pull this off!” they said.
I giggled. “Keep trying. You’ll get there.”
Stuart M. Perkins
39 responses to “Wrap Star!”
A lovely reminiscence! Your posts are a delight.
Not unlike my house growing up except my mother had to content with three boys who lacked fine motor control. Delightful story.
I’m in my mid-70s and, despite trying, I still haven’t managed to progress beyond your own early wrapping style which both amused and comforted me!!
Haha! Embrace it!
Writing I remember my days of wrapping and family life
Your sisters’ wrapping sounds similar to that of my mother. She was the only person I ever knew who could wrap an entire gift in such a way that she used only one piece of tape!
I laughed out loud at the stabbing of the bedroom door. I currently have a bandage over a sliced finger and I’m 43! Darn curling ribbon.
Haha! I agree!
Been there, done the same. Fun story.
Wonderful story! My Mom and Grandmother both took wrapping to the highest level. They added ribbon roses they’d made, added little holiday gee gaws, on and on it went. I kept attempting to keep up but it was all to detailed for me and beyond my skill set. It sure was beautiful though.
Yep! It’s a lot of pressure! Lol
What a charming and delightful story with a good point about being open to adopting different ways! If blog posts had a ‘love’ button, I’d use it on this one!
I appreciate that!
I don’t often laugh aloud when reading, but I did while reading this. You are brilliant!
Haha! Well that is the best compliment I could get! Thank you!
Stuart, I was deeply touched by your Christmas gift wrapping story. I am going to bookmark it to read it out next year to my friends, who gather annually on the first Sunday of Advent.
Thank you Peter! You consistently give me encouragement and I appreciate that!
I’m a self confessed lover of beautifully wrapped gifts, actually I sometimes prefer the wrapping more than the gift but I love the element of surprise in your story!
We don’t do bows anymore…cats eat and throw up ribbons. 🙁 I love the unique wrapping idea..and if you use newspaper comics, they tear into sections easily as well as providing reading material!
I’m going to remember that!
What a cute story. Bows are passe’ anyway. God bless.
Love your story 😊 🎁
What a beautiful story, you take us to the memory so vividly 🙂 I have to say I take pride in my gift wrapping like you sisters, and I love to see all the perfectly shaped parcels under the Christmas tree in red, gold and green… but your oddball wrapped presents sound just as enthralling!
Thanks! They were something to behold all right…
Truly enjoyed your story. At our house we give prizes for gift wrapping creativity. You would win the prize for most unique. 🙂
From the year dot, my brother and I have always had the oddest collection of Christmas parcels. You see my mum and dad always disguised presents either by putting them inside more boxes, all individually wrapped, and would even place a brick, bells, pebbles in a jar or whatever so that each gift would clang, click, or ring and weigh odd. The tradition remains to this day with me keeping boxes and packages ready for the annual gift-wrap. Great story 🙂
Thanks and I love that! Haha! Putting something in the package as a decoy is an idea I’m going to use too!
Have fun wrapping your gifts in surprising ways this year too. Happy Holiday.
Same to you!
Wrapping gifts was fun at our house too—better than receiving a present actually. My mother’s greatest joy was in knowing the contents of every single one of her packages before Christmas Day. We never figured out how she found out, but on Christmas morning, she would gleefully tell each of us what the gift was before she opened it. Not only that, but she would also wake us up on Christmas Eve morning by saying, “Christmas Eve Gift!” That meant we were supposed to buy her an extra present because she had announced the day first, but of course we couldn’t for several reasons. It was hardly fair as we all slept so soundly without alarm clocks. Because there were four of us kids, Christmas Day was always the best of all. We were not so savvy about searching and discovery, but we still enjoyed buying necessary things for each other, wrapping, and opening presents.
Haha, the wondrousness of mystery is all the fun of waiting to open presents. I must admit I like to see a beautifully wrapped gift but I also enjoy the enigma of a lumpy parcel. Glad I’m not the only one who wraps a bit differently.
Thank you for the gift of this story. I had printed it and read it aloud. It gave three of us in my family a good, warm experience in an otherwise marred holiday time.
Well thank you for that compliment but I’m sorry to hear that your holiday is not so festive. I hope that changes very soon!
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