Go to enough holiday parties and you’ll meet all kinds of people. A few nights ago, I met my polar opposite.
“There’s nothing I like to do more,” she told me, “than wrap presents.”
Good grief. Someone who likes to wrap presents? Someone who’s actually good at it? I could feel myself getting the vapors. Either that, or I’d had too much to drink and had begun to hallucinate.
It was a lot better for my husband and me, a/k/a the wrapping incompetents, when our kids were young. We could drag them to birthday and holiday parties with shoddily wrapped presents — the bow lopsided and clearly ripped off some other package, the paper gaping at one end and folded over several times on the other — and kind of pretend the kids had wrapped it with their own grubby little hands. Which would explain other problems, such as the occasional grease stain when something had sat in our kitchen more than five minutes, or a “creative” combining of two different kinds of wrapping paper when supplies were low. Or use of the Sunday funny papers or — on a weekday — plain, black-and-white newspapers.
You get the point. We don’t care a lot about this kind of stuff. Which is why I always get a heavy case of heartburn when I read about somebody like that dreadful, obnoxious Martha Stewart, who makes her own gift-wrapping paper and pulls together packages that look like a work of art. Packages so gorgeous you don’t want to disturb them by unwrapping them.
Believe me, nobody ever has that problem with any of our packages. They’re usually halfway unwrapped to begin with; if the tape is hanging on well, the overall effect is usually so pathetic it screams, “Unwrap me! Can’t you see I’m ashamed of myself?”
For people like us, the invention of the gift bag was a present from heaven.
More recently, I’m pleased to note that the advent of the green environmental movement has made wrapping packages unfashionable and ecologically taboo. O, happy day! What a holiday present for people like us! You’ll see us coming to a gathering with a present that isn’t even wrapped and, instead of being disgusted, you’ll be enchanted and bursting with admiration.
You won’t think we’re slobs the way people have for decades. You’ll think we care too much about the environment to try to impress you in a superficial way.
To me, there’s a lesson here. Just keep on doing what you’re doing and, eventually, if you wait long enough and have absolutely no pride, you may suddenly turn fashionable. Maybe you like to wrap, but we’re saving the earth.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)