I have no talent for wrapping presents. I’m worse than bad. I’m embarrassing. If wrapping presents were a professional sport I wouldn’t even be in the game. I’d be that ridiculous drunk guy in the stands, inexplicably shirtless and painted the team colors in sub-zero temperatures. Sure he’s dedicated but you’ll notice that no one publicly claims him as family. My wrapping is that disgraceful.
The truly sad thing is that I spent years working retail during the holiday season. I was taught proper wrapping technique by professionals who rivaled Martha Stewart in wrapping skills. It just didn’t take. I buy cheap supplies, I’m impatient and I ignore everything I’ve been taught. I can see what I’m doing wrong but I’m powerless to stop myself. It’s an affliction.
My husband, who will not wrap out of principle, leaves the Christmas and birthday wrapping to me. He claims to be worse than I am, but there’s no proof to substantiate his claims. I think he just enjoys watching me struggle while he drinks a beer. I’m entertaining. Like a dancing bear, but with scissors.
And you know who is left to suffer? The children. Two Christmases ago we had to tell the kids that Santa hired disabled elves to get a tax credit. Terrible, I know, but I didn’t want them to think that Santa just didn’t care enough to do his job properly. It would break their little idealistic hearts.
This year, determined to better my skills and assuage my guilt, I marched out and purchased some extra fancy metallic paper. I pictured our tree surrounded by beautiful shiny packages. In my mind it was very classy.
In retrospect, the 99 Cent Store might not have been the best place for me to purchase class. Some things are 99 cents for a reason and it isn’t because they are too classy. More often than not the reason is that discerning shoppers wouldn’t pay full price for the product so they take it on over to the 99 Cent Store and wait for naive cheap skates like me to take it home. And along I came, fresh from reading my favorite design blogs(because lord knows I long to be stylish) and, filled with enthusiasm that I often mistake for skill, I loaded my cart with supplies that I truly believed in that moment I could use to make a beautiful Christmas. Sucker.
When I took my supplies out on Christmas Eve to wrap the presents, I discovered that the under side of the 99 Cent Store paper was the color and texture of a heavy-duty paper bag–stiff and very hard for an unskilled wrapper like myself to work with. Moreover, the slick surface of the “metallic” side made scotch tape nearly useless. I used twice as much tape to make up for it. The finished product looked as though I’d taken the aluminum siding stripped off a trailer in a tornado and made a tomb for unwanted toys. Somewhere out there Martha Stewart threw up a little in her mouth. I stuck some bows on top in an effort to distract from the white trash effect and put the presents under the tree, hoping that in the excitement of Christmas morning it would all look better.
Then in the middle of the night, despite being fastened with yards and yards of tape, the presents unwrapped themselves as if trying to flee the humiliation. Only instead of fleeing, they just lay there under the tree, wrapping paper flung open like tiny inanimate exotic dancers.
It was too late to fix the carnage. The kids had already seen the evidence of my dysfunction. I had to throw out some sort of explanation. So like generations of parents before me, when confronted with my own inability to uphold the magic and wonderment of a perfect childhood for my children, I reached back into my desperate brain and grabbed the first plausible excuse I could come up with.
The elves were drunk.
Hey, I was tired and under a lot of pressure. Don’t judge me. By the way, if my kids come knocking on your door collecting money for the Elven Rehab, just go with it. I’ll put the money toward their therapy later.