Monday, December 14, 2009

Why I Hate Wrapping Presents - and Other Musings on the Holidays

I love getting presents.  I love giving presents.  What I don't like is wrapping presents.  I don't know too many people who love doing it, but I used to be one of those people.  I prided myself on how straight the paper was, how well the pattern matched and if you could see any tape lines.  I have wrapped presents so nicely that the recipient had trouble finding the edge.  I have created bow masterpieces and ribbon extravaganzas.  I was a present wrapping snob.  In elementary school my teacher even farmed me out to other classes to teach the kids how to wrap their holiday gifts for their parents.  I used to love it, now I don't.

You may wonder what happened to my crazy obsession with all things wrapped.  I used to get joy by watching people admire my beautiful gifts under the tree.  I knew the wrapping paper was just a preview of what was to come when they opened my fabulous gift inside.  Once again, I don't love it so much anymore.

I used to spend hours decorating everything and making things just perfect.  I loved to add little items every year and spent hours hand painting decorations for the house.  I sewed matching runners for the tables and added knickknacks all around.  Now, not so much.

I used to spend days baking pies and goodies.  I loved the chance to share treats with friends and family.  I would spend way too long stirring home made toffee and other tasty treats.  My house smelled like a candy factory.  That doesn't even sound exciting any more.

I think I have probably depressed you enough by now, so I wanted to get to my point.  Christmas (or any other holiday celebrated at this time of year) isn't about any of that.  It isn't about perfectly wrapped presents, beautifully decorated homes or tasty morsels of heaven.  It is about family and remembering the holiday for what it represents.  Many of us forget why we celebrate the holidays, in fact many people celebrate more out of custom than belief.

Before you get upset, there is nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas for the commercial aspects (if that is your intent), in fact the economy thanks you.  The problem is if you turn your celebration into such a stress event that you forget why you are doing it.

In my case Christmas has a deeply religious meaning.  It also has a cavernous commercial side.  I spend too much time looking for presents and not enough time remembering why I am going to the effort.  Have you ever been to a birthday party for which the presents you brought were more important that the person having the birthday?  Have you ever been to a birthday party where the decorations made you forget the person celebrating?  I thought not.

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are celebrated at this time of year as well.  They each have deep meaning and the potential to get wrapped up in "culture" as well.  I think it kind of defeats the purpose.

So back to why I hate the wrapping, the decorating and the food.  I don't actually hate these things, it's true.  In fact I am thinking about toffee as I write.  What I do hate is the crazy stress holiday "perfection" brings.  I want my holidays to be about family and memories, and to that end I wrap presents and carry on with holiday traditions.  However, in the end I don't want my kids to remember Mom being stressed as part of the tradition.  I would rather have a less than perfectly wrapped present and be calm and happy.  I want my children to have magical memories of peace and happiness, not frazzle and grumpiness.

So I finish this blog with a "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good/peaceful/calm/stress free night!"

1 comment: