ribbonI’ve just emerged from the basement with a linty piece of Scotch tape on the bottom of my foot and, though it’s annoying in a way that only Scotch tape on skin can be, I’m too tired to peel it off. I’m only up here because I need to get another pen, since the ink finally died on my old one, and then it’s back to the basement I go, where I’ll likely just get more tape stuck on various parts of my body. See, it’s there that presents await to be wrapped.

While I would consider myself a passionate Christmas enthusiast, wrapping presents is without a doubt my least favorite pastime of the season. It has largely to do with the fact that I am notoriously bad at it.

My biggest problem is I have absolutely no spatial perception and, as such, I am mystified by how large or small the paper needs to be to wrap the gift. If the gift is big, you can be sure I’ll cut the paper an inch too small so there is that unforgiveable line of cold, exposed space that decries the shortcomings of the giver.

If the gift is medium sized, I’ll cut the paper far too large and then become blushingly aware I am wasting a ream of paper on one gift when I could be wrapping several smaller ones with it. So I do, wrapping up the DVDs and books, and then leaving the medium-sized gifts to the end when I’m running woefully short on supplies.

Another hindrance is I am, and always have been, terrible at cutting in a straight line, so that the seams of my gifts always look like they’re composed of a line of mini thunderbolts.

When I finally do get a present wrapped, there remains the problem of the ribbon. Over the years, my ribbon bag has been so neglected it has now become a source of great stress. Somehow its contents have become one so that if I want a piece of silver ribbon, say, pulling on one end will only eventually lead me to a tangled tumbleweed that is reluctant to let it go.

Even when I manage to get a piece of ribbon long enough, I then don’t know what to do with it, so I just twist it around the box in traditional fashion and tie a simple shoelace bow. The other night, after having appealed to my stepdaughter Gabrielle for help, she came up with all manner of bow styles, all of which were shockingly intricate. But when I tried to duplicate one, my fingers would let go of an important piece, and it would collapse into the line it originally was.

For several years, I relied entirely on gift bags, which not only let me off the wrapping hook but also seemed like a far better option for the environment, since they’re reusable.

This worked rather well until I saw my little niece Kennedy open her gifts. Rather than delight in ripping off the paper, her little fingers desperately seeking the paper’s seams to get to what was inside, she was forced to just pull out the tissue paper, which seemed about as much fun as letting the air out of a tire.

When we were kids, my mom was always extremely orderly about wrapping presents. Each night, while watching TV, she would wrap a few and tie them gently with ribbon. Each morning, my little brother Matthew and I would head downstairs, examine the new landscape under the tree and vigorously shake the new additions, the anticipation of what was inside often as great as what actually was.

I regret to say it, but Gabrielle has not grown up, at least at our house, having this tantalizing experience for, since I hate to wrap, I love to put it off.

Which is how I’ve gotten to this place, in the kitchen at 9:30 on Wednesday, searching for a pen. Now that I’ve found a good one, I’m going to head back to the basement and resume my undertaking.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It’s been a wonderful year, dear readers. I hope it has been for you too.

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