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Wrapping presents is dangerous business

One of the benefits of our annual sibling Christmas gift exchange is the kids learn how to wrap presents. The rest of the year, we shove gifts into colorful bags with tufts of tissue paper jutting from the top. It takes no special skill to do this. If you can load a grocery sack with rocks and newspaper, you can deliver a My Little Pony to a Chuck E. Cheese in style. Wrapping packages in paper is a dying art. Producing a crisp triangular corner is one of life’s smug pleasures. Forget that someone will rip your Sistene-Chapelian masterwork to shreds in the near future. It’s a lovely thing to be able to do with skillful confidence.

All nine of the kids choose presents for their designated sibling. They draw names out of a bowl around December 1st. Of course, the little ones received help from me in the form of choosing, buying, and wrapping. Ollie did not search multiple online retailers for Aidan’s gift, nor did he receive it from the UPS driver. He was sleeping when I wrapped it. Everyone else was expected to actively participate—even three-year-old Teddy, who drew Beatrix’s name. One by one, I call each kid into my room where I have a wrapping factory set up. They choose the paper and tags and need different levels of help.

Teddy was the last to wrap. He was so excited it was finally his turn, but he had no idea what to expect. I had him choose a paper, which I cut to size. He watched as I showed him how I folded the paper up and over the top of Beatrix’s present. Then, I tore off a two-inch long piece of tape and handed it to him. “Put the tape here…”

I pointed to a spot where paper met present, thinking he’d lay the piece down. It would be crooked, but hey. He’s three.

Instead, he wadded it up and hurled it at the present. Then, he jumped off the bed and ran out of the room, down the stairs, down another flight of stairs to the basement. You’d think I suggested he curl ribbon next.

A vision of the future unfolded: Teddy, age 45, standing in line at a mall with a Le Creuset Marseille blue French oven for his elderly mother (wow, I waited a LONG time). “I’d like the free gift wrap,” he says with a smile.

“The free gift wrap requires a donation to our charity, People Against Paper Cuts.”


Some people aren’t born to wrap. But I’ll try again next year. I hope the safety goggles won’t give me a headache.

the 2013 rundown

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