Barbara Murphy: Present-wrapping torture

Barbara Murphy

For some, Christmas is their favorite season of the year; for others it’s more of a saga than a season.

I know one thing: It’s a lot of work; especially for the female species. I’ve heard all the clichés about remembering the reason for the season and putting Christ back into Christmas and I try, I really do.

I donate to all the good causes at Christmas and never pass the Salvation Army kettle without stuffing a buck into it. I attend church services, sing in the choir and do my best to get into the Christmas spirit, but somehow I always end up exhausted in body, mind and spirit by the time the big day arrives.

I listen to psychologists on shows such as “The View” and “Oprah” tell us how we’ve become too materialistic when it comes to Christmas. I’ve read books on how to simplify our lives and get rid of excess stuff that we do each year; and I try, I really do. 

There are parts of Christmas that I look forward to like having a root canal. One of these chores is baking cookies and the other one is wrapping presents.

Each time I go shopping and come home with another load of gifts, I deposit them all on top of one another on the bed in the spare bedroom and then quickly shut the door behind me, retreating from the scene.

I know that soon I will have to bite the bullet and begin wrapping this mountain of gifts. I know what you’re thinking: Why doesn’t she just buy gift cards if she hates to wrap gifts?

I did buy a few this year, especially for the teens in my life, who are almost impossible to buy for. Still, giving plastic seems like such a cold way to celebrate Christmas. Even when I give gift cards, I buy something extra for these recipients, just so they have something to unwrap.

This past Sunday I decided that the time had come to bite the bullet and begin the arduous task of wrapping presents.

I found an awe-inspiring movie, “Remember the Titans,” to watch on TV and began setting the scene for an evening of torture.

I got out my best scissors and assembled the tape and sticky tabs. Next I went to the basement and brought up an ample supply of last year’s gift boxes I had been saving for this momentous occasion. I also rounded up all of the gift sacks I had retrieved after last Christmas’s gift exchange, as well as the new ones I had purchased. Nearby, on the coffee table, I put three new packages of tissue paper to help fill the bags and line the Christmas boxes. I even remembered to put a pen where it would be within reach, to put the name tags on each gift.

I figured that this year I would get organized and turn the whole thing into an assembly line of gift wrapping expertise. “You can do this,” I told myself!

A half-hour later I had wrapped three gifts, already lost the scissors twice and had gone through one complete roll of scotch tape. My back was killing me, my knees were giving me fits and I realized that I had committed the cardinal sin: Without considering the consequences, I had purchased odd shaped Christmas gifts that were impossible to wrap. I defy anyone to successfully wrap a 24-quart stainless steel stockpot!

What was I thinking when I purchased these items? It’s clear that I wasn’t thinking about how I was going to wrap them.

What is it they say about hindsight being 20/20?

By the time I got down to the last two gifts, it was midnight and I had long given up trying to make the presents look neat and tidy. By this time I just wanted to cover them with something ---- anything that would camouflage them long enough for me to hand them out on Christmas Eve.

After looking 20 minutes for the scissors that were once again lost and the pen that had somehow disappeared among the piles of empty shopping bags, I gave up and went to bed. I had almost, but not quite, conquered the Mount Everest-sized pile of loot I had been accumulating for the past month.

Perhaps the morning would bring me a fresh perspective and a few less aches and pains. After all, ”those who wrap and run away, shall live to wrap another day.” I can’t remember who uttered those infamous words, but it probably wasn’t Martha Stewart.

Next year, if I’m lucky enough to still be around to once again go Christmas shopping, I am going to write myself a note in large black print that says: BUY SMALL!

News-Tribune (Keyser, W.Va.)