Gift-Wrap Obsessed Much?

I am slightly obsessed with wrapping and packaging Christmas gifts. Fine. More than obsessed. Obsessive/compulsive may more accurately describe my tendencies. I just can’t help but keep moving the target, even after I’ve told myself the cheap dollar store wrapping paper will do. Truth is…it doesn’t. It’s cheap. It rips easily. You can often see through it (defeating the purpose of wrapping paper altogether). And it is never quite pretty enough.

So I go out and buy more gift-wrapping accoutrements.

Those magazine articles don’t help – with spreads of Christmas gifts donning DIY wrapping paper, stenciled gifts tags, sprigs of fresh holly and real turtle doves (okay, the last one is a minor exaggeration) have ruined me altogether. Because I WANT THAT.

And the whole myth, the magical “JOY” of wrapping gifts, falls severely short of expectations. It’s as if Christmas amnesia sets in…or denial…and I believe yet again that if I set the mood with plenty of holiday lighting, festive music and hot chocolate, wrapping will be more enjoyable…this time.

Nope.

For some reason, I never anticipate the incredible amount of physical exertion wrapping presents require. Why do I just feel like I ran a half-marathon??

And I get SO thirsty. Why am I SO thirsty?

And I lose stuff. Even with the tape that straps to my hand. And the losing stuff, repeatedly, provokes a sort of Christmas insanity. Where are my scissors? They were…JUST…HERE!! *gritting teeth* What!? I’m out of tape again???? NO!!!!!

Did I…did I just get a paper cut? OH-MY-GOSH, I…am…bleeding. I have a Christmas paper cut! Are you kidding me?

And the achy-ness – the physical pain of hours of pulling paper tautly over the edges of even the most manageable boxes. So much pain. But pop some aspirin cuz’…must…keep…wrapping.

And, just wait, because at least one of my gifts will be so oddly shaped that no amount of wrapping skill or experience will suffice. Really, I should just drop those gifts in bags. But bags feel like a cop-out. Besides, I can’t find a bag wide enough. So I try to wrap the gift, while feeling all sorts of buyer’s remorse. But the ends of the paper won’t fold in neatly and instead gets crinkled and cracked. Or just as I am finishing, something (probably one of the eighteen sharp edges on said object) pokes through the paper. And I’m like “NOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Deep breaths and a lot of self-talk…”It’s fine. It’s totally fine. It’s just going to rip again, so I am NOT rewrapping it. No…NO. I’m not rewrapping over some little tear. That’s just crazy talk.”

*Cut to scene where I am again wrapping this same item, wrestling it like an alligator until the edges tear the paper again. And crying a little.*

Paper is everywhere. Bows scattered. Tape reserves dangerously low. Scissors missing…again. Back aching. Head throbbing. Paper cuts bleeding. Is it the twelfth day of Christmas already??!?

Then I look up and realize I’ve only wrapped a total of…three and a half presents. There are twenty-five more to go, and that’s not counting a bajillion tiny stocking stuffers, including socks (and how does one wrap socks???)

An overwhelming desire to assume the fetal position consumes me…

But, no. NO. Must…keep…wrapping. And…stamping gift tags. Can’t…stop…the madness…

Help a Sister Out!

 

Yes, I realize it’s not yet December, and I’m writing about Christmas. But let’s be honest. If you’re a woman who celebrates Christmas, you’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Gearing up. Clipping coupons. Making lists. Trying to remember what you gave people last year. Scheduling photos for Christmas cards. And bracing yourself for the hurricane THAT IS the festive holiday season.

It’s like there is an imaginary gun somewhere, held in the air (or at our heads), while we crouch at the starter’s block. POW! The gun goes off – the race is on! Even those of us that try to pace ourselves in the beginning sprint at the end. And it’s not pretty.

While discussing the impending holiday stress with my mother today, she planted a seed of wisdom that isn’t new or even profound. It’s quite simple, really. Yet, we find it SO hard to do. She said, “Women need to help each other out by not adding to one another’s stress at Christmas time.”

In the words of my father (in his famous “women make so much work for themselves at Christmas” speech), “You [women] make ALL that work for yourselves, and then you get ALL stressed out because you’ve got ALL that work to do. *waving hands in the air for emphasis* Does that make ANY sense?” And then, despite our heavy sighs, eye rolls and verbal protests, he goes on to describe how most men are happy to sit around in their underwear, watching a game or doing nothing, eating cereal and pulling gifts (bought the night before) out of store bags. While this is a generality, it may NOT be inaccurate or exaggerated. (I have seen men behave this way without female intervention. Unfortunately. I have.)

Yep. Most of what “must happen” at Christmas is a supply/demand phenomenon where both the suppliers AND the demanders are often one in the same – WOMEN. Now, I know there are exceptions. And I know that this feels unfair. But it’s kinda’ true.

Many, if not all, of the Christmas parties, gifts, meals, traditions, cookie swaps and other holiday festivities in which myself and my family participate…are generated and organized by women. I don’t see a ton of men, of their own accord, dressing in their holiday finest to exchange gifts, sans wives. Rather, their involvement in grand holiday festivities tends to occur at the sharp behest of girlfriends or wives. (Perhaps the gun-to-the-head  hyperbole works here as well.)

This means that, if “we” [women] are going to simplify the season, we [women] need to start with each other. Because we [women] are the ones in charge hereSo for Christmas this year, I am begging you to help a sister out.

At a time when gifts beget gifts and baked goods more baked goods, the best way to let ourselves off the hook is to let others off the hook, too. You might consider saying to your friends, “Let’s not worry about exchanging gifts this year. We’ve got enough to do.” Or scheduling a get-together in January or February instead cramming everything into December. Or toning down the number of gifts Santa brings and instead do something with your kids for someone in need.

I began the 2013 Holiday Season with the simple decision to forgo cookie exchanges. Some women love them. But for me, baking is not fun. And I don’t need the calories. So why do it?

You may pick something totally different to forgo. Good.

Christmas might not have all the same bells and whistles if we let some things go. But Christmas was NEVER meant to be about the bells and whistles. Or guns. So before that starter gun fires (and I think it already has): Help a sister out. Find ways to simplify. Make time to breathe. And help others do the same. We’re in this together.