Mother and I have spent a lot of time talking since she’s bedridden until her back surgery after the holidays. One of the things that came up Saturday, as I was wrapping Christmas presents for her (on her bed, as we talked) was how special wrapping packages used to be at our house on Blackhawk Road.
Then yesterday morning, as I was wrapping a present at home (a late arrival for son Ben), I thought of something else about packages and the kids on Blackhawk. But I’ve hesitated to write anything.
My grief for the families in Newton – who surely have gifts wrapped and under their trees for children who aren’t there to open them – makes me feel almost obscene for writing about anything but that. But plenty has been said by others smarter and more gifted at writing than I, so instead I’ll offer something frivolous.
Mother made a major production of wrapping packages, especially at Christmas. I loved to help and learned to make fancy bows, cut decorations out of old Christmas cards – anything to jazz them up – and by my early teens, I was wrapping more presents than Mother was. It was fun, a creative outlet, and I was good at it. My patience was great back then, unlike now, and I made sure each fold was prefect and each bow special.
Somehow I discovered another talent – that I could unwrap and rewrap packages without detection. Must have been by forgetting who a package was for before labeling it and needing to peek inside, because I like surprises and would never have pre-opened my own presents.
Sudden random memory – Pam’s mother, at least once, handed her a box and told her to wrap it without looking inside because it was a Pam’s own present. Do you remember that, Pam? We thought it was funny and bizarre, as was our outlook on lots of things in life.
Anyway, word got out that I could unwrap as well as I could wrap, and the Fisher kids came knocking. They were eaten up with curiosity and talked me into coming to their house when their parents were at work and slightly opening their presents under the tree, just enough so they could get a peek at what they were, or might be (sometimes boxes are deceptive).
I felt pretty bad about it and was mightily scared of their mom, but there were four of them and one of me, so I gave in and did it. Just that once, I think, but that was 40+ years ago, and there could have been a repeat performance.
I might have done it for Pam a time or two, as well.
Today, as Mother pointed out Saturday, gift bags have made fancy wrapping not moot but less special. I’m certainly not obsessed with perfection, as I once was.
There was a time, though. When I worked at M.M Cohn at McCain Mall in college, I was known for my folding skills – we didn’t wrap at the registers, but we put clothes in gift boxes to be taken to customer service, and I would get paged all over the store to fold sweaters and things that needed to look special.
And that, and another talk Mother and I had about the past has sparked another blog for another day this week.