Jul 22 2011
Apart from keeping my commitment to post regularly on this blog, the job I suck the most at doing is gift-wrapping.
Corporate Babe spent the day working from home today and looking after Exacto, who stayed home sick. She had earlier promised to pick up the kids from school and take Destructo to a classmate’s birthday party this afternoon.
Just as she was rushing out of the house to pick up the kids, she announced that she would be making a brief stop home on the way back to drop off Filosofo and wrap up the birthday gift.
Then she had a brilliant idea. Or a lapse of memory, I don’t which. She asked if I could have the present wrapped when she came home, as that would save her a lot of time.
We have been married for over 18 years, and it seems that she completely forgot that I am the most useless gift-wrapper on the planet.
I am staring at the monstrosity I have just created and I’m finding it really hard – nay … make that impossible – to imagine any seven year old child getting excited to receive such an ugly-wrapped package. It looks like we’re trying to disposed of a dead family pet we never really cared about.
I know Corporate Babe wanted it wrapped in plain brown paper so Destructo could add a drawing for his friend, but right now it looks worse than something you’d receive in the mail if you ordered something from an adult store that you have to inflate before using, or if you have a long list of enemies who no longer want you to be walking around.
No matter how many videos I’ve watched on YouTube about how to slide a pair of scissors through the wrapping paper so the blade will slice the paper smoothly all the way from one end to another, as soon as I move the scissors forward, the paper bunches up like the frowning worried forehead of an old wrinkly man until it tears in every direction except along a straight line.
Previous experience has taught me that no matter how long the enveloping paper is compared to the size of the package about to be enveloped, it’s best not to mess with it, as every time I’ve tried to cut some of the length off to make it look neater, it inevitably ended up being too short to wrap around the gift and return to its point of origin with enough overlap for the sticky tape to seal both ends together, and I had to resort to sticking another piece of paper over the wrapping to patch the gap. And believe me, when this happens, nothing shows up my ineptitude for gift-wrapping worse than using paper with printed patterns or illustrations on it. The gift recipient ends up receiving a package with illustrations of people or animals missing faces, necks, torsos or limbs, and pictures of toy cars with no room for drivers or people to sit inside.
Because I’m too afraid now to cut wrapping paper to size, the gift usually ends up being wrapped a couple of times over, so that the paper joins up and gets taped together on the top side of the present. This means that the recipient of my gift-wrapped gifts will undoubtely always end up turning their present upside down when they receive it, and, after ripping through the layers of paper, be presented with the bottom of their gift. For boxed items, this usually means staring for a while at a section of completely plain white cardboard. Not exactly the most thrilling moment of their party.
Taping up the wrong side of the present is bad enough. But it gets worse … atrociously worse!
Because I normally end up placing the gift in the middle of a very long piece of paper (just to be sure that I’m not going to come up short on all sides), I usually have to fold up the paper into itself at each end many times before it will join up with the side of the package. This creates two thick lumps at each end, which then overlap the edges (on the top side of the gift, of course) and makes it difficult to hold down with tape. I’ve tried cutting off the ends once the paper gets too hard to fold anymore, but it just makes things worse. The sticky tape then has to hold lots of paper edges together, instead of just trying to hold down one thick edge.
And don’t even get me started on the sticky tape. By the time I’m done wrapping it, the gift looks like a badly wounded soldier trying to hold his intestines from spilling out. If you have ever played “pass the parcel”, you know what my gift looks like when I’m finally done bandaging it.
Last but not least, you can forget about anything fancy. You want me to tie a ribbon around it? I think knot.
How can I be so sucky at gift-wrapping? Am I really deep down an uncaring father who wants to embarass his own children at parties, or someone who does not care about bringing joy to the lives of others?
I don’t want to blame my gift-wrapping shortcomings on the past, but the truth is, I am unable to work with the present.
So I will blame my upbringing. I was born and raised in a culture where people have a long history of being persecuted and made to move along. Most of the time, the only thing these people could carry with them as they fled from persecution, was the ideas and stories in their head. They have a proud history of intellectual and academic achievement and have an excellent capacity to reason and deal with abstract concepts, but as far as my own personal childhood and my family of origin is concerned, I didn’t get to sit around doing arts and crafts and developing fine motor skills with little pieces of glue, string and cardboard.
Nah … that story doesn’t hold together.
Okay then, how about this one …
My children go to a Rudolf Steiner school. They don’t just sit in a classroom like I did, and get told by a teacher using chalk marks on a blackboard about things, they actually experience what they are learning in a hands-on, kinesthetic and contextual way. For example, when they were learning how to write, they had to craft quills from feathers and make calligraphy markings on sheets of papirus using ink, because that’s how writing first developed. This one aspect of their learning curriculum was also reinforced through artwork, dance and plays. My boys are taught ways to improve their fine motor skills by doing useful stuff like knitting, crocheting and baking, learn about observing seasonal cycles by growing food and making candles and complex little figurines out of bees wax for festivals and celebrations, perform physical demonstrations of sensorial experiences and go on frequent excursions with their teachers to experience what people actually do in the community and how society and nature are interconnected. I mostly sat in a classroom for years on end and had to imagine the whole learning thing.
Aaarrgh .. I don’t want to go on that trip either.
It’s no use, I just cannot blame my present challenges on my past or my future.
I suppose the only option I have, then, is to be grateful for the gifts I have received and accept the fact that any gifts I have to offer others will hopefully be delivered in the right spirit, but may arrive poorly wrapped.
I want to believe that someday I’ll be able to handle the present better. I just need to learn to give more and not get so wrapped up in the whole package.
The Lazy Househusband