There was a time when I spent a tremendous amount of time on wrapping Christmas presents. Paper selection was thoughtful, creases were sharp, bow decor was dramatic, and the tags were perfectly color-coordinated – the wrapping was a gift in-and-of-itself. I used to have the type of skills that would have allowed me to be head gift wrapper at Macy’s. I don’t know if they still have those gift wrapping services at any of the department stores – the ones where you picked the paper and the bow off the wrapped display boxes on the wall and paid an additional $5 for a professionally wrapped gift. That used to be the standard for well-wrapped gifts – and I lived up to the standard.
Then I had kids, and every year since my investment in the quality of the wrapping has declined dramatically. About ten years ago, I all but abandoned making my own specially-created bows and began to embrace stick on bows. I started with the luxury stick on bows that cost about $5 for a bag of 12-15, but then quickly migrated to the $3 bags of 30-40 bows. The $3 bag bows are very small and often are misshaped -they look like they belong on the Island of Misfit Toys – but I just cannot bring myself to care much about that. The bows are always the first to go in an unwrapping frenzy and as such malformed bows are something I can live with.
The compatibility of the tags was next to go. Not that tag compatibility was all that difficult a task. There typically are only so many color choices in tags – the traditional themed color complement of red, green, white, silver, gold and blue. It wasn’t as if matching up tags with the paper selection was all that difficult, but a few years ago that became unimportant to me as well.
And this year came the final blow to my wrapping integrity – I stopped caring about the crispness of my creases. I am at the point where getting paper on the gift in some form or fashion is about all I am able to commit to. And the days of caring about the color mix of my wrapping paper selection are over. I used to believe that the presents had to be wrapped in a large variety of colors and prints to make the gifts under the tree look pleasing to the eye. Now I just use whatever role is handy until it runs out. I have become a gift wrap shlumpadinka.
The good news is, I have noticed with the passing years an increasing leaning toward gift bags. They are decorated, they already have tags, they come in all sizes, they can be recycled from year to year, and they have handles that make them easy to carry. A stack of gift bags, some tissue paper, some curl ribbon to decoratively hold the handles together, and my wrapping obligations are dispatched in no time. That seems like a winner to me. Each year my bag use has increased. This year I believe my bag to wrap ratio will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 70% bags and 30% wrap.
Yes, I am becoming a bag lady, and I am okay with that. This is one of the areas in my life that I am willing to cut corners on. I am not the perfect homemaker with the perfectly wrapped gifts under the perfectly manicured tree. If I am going to spend time on getting things just right, the time will be spent on getting the right gifts for the right people…and, in getting bags…lots of pretty bags.
Day one thousand two hundred and thirty-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da