Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wrap party of one

They've been threatening us since about Wednesday with all sorts of nasty weather for today. Apparently most of the forecasts have come true. Massachusetts it getting positively smacked with snow. Here in Pennsylvania we got snow under freezing rain. The storm seems to have stopped for the moment, but I don't think this is the last of it.

After hearing all these weather reports, I decided that Sunday would be a great day to stay in and wrap presents. I had them all bought by Wednesday (except the ones for the folks at work, which I added to my list on a whim Friday afternoon), but didn't have them all in my possession until Friday night. I'd bought my uncle something on ebay on Monday and was starting to panic when I hadn't heard anything from the post office by Thursday. It's part of the set that has to go to the relatives in Virginia, and I was beginning to think I'd have to send them off with out it. But I have it now, so they can all start winging their way southward as soon as I get 'em to a UPS store. I've stopped using the post office for packages after some jewelry I made for my cousin's wedding went missing for a couple of weeks before showing up back at my own doorstep, marked as "undeliverable." But that's a story for another post.

I've got Christmas music on the laptop and everything I need to get wrapping. I'm keeping this window open and will be coming back to it every once in a while, because I usually get fussed while I'm doing this and I want to share my frustration with someone besides the cat (who is, as always, on hand to supervise any project her human attempts).

11:40 am: The "Victorian era antique" shaving mug (the ebay seller bought it at an estate auction, says it's transferware. It may very well be. I'm not concerned about that. My uncle just likes old shaving mugs. He puts them on a shelf in the bathroom over the tub) needs a wash. There's "antique" soap scum in the bottom part of it. I almost get my fingers stuck in there trying to get at it.

11:50 am: Shaving mug's now drying upside-down on a towel. That shall be wrapped last.

12:02 pm: Haven't even started yet, and I'm already annoyed. I bought a pack of scissors because mine go missing the moment they're needed. The packaging material in which these scissors are wrapped is too tough to break into guessed it: a pair of scissors. I just remembered the little Leatherman tool in my purse with the scissors in it. There's a jackknife, if the scissors don't work.

12:10 pm: All right, where's the tape?

12:11 pm: Found it. Under the cat. Where else?

12:20 pm: Am I the only person out there who gets an odd little surge of pride when they manage to make the wrapping paper pattern match up at the seam? Honestly, who's going to notice that? It's not like I'm hanging wallpaper.

12:29 pm: Somehow the tape got under the cat again.

12:36 pm: Just wrapped the present for my cousin's oldest kid. It came as a shock this year when I realized K was a teenager, and that I should stop thinking of her as an infant genius. She is pretty darn smart. I remember a phone conversation we had when she was six. My aunt had put her on to say hi, and she greeted me with: "Did you know that plants and people have a symbiotic relationship?"

You know how in sitcoms a character will pull the phone away from his ear and look at it for a second before continuing a conversation? Thought that was just for dramatic effect until I did it myself.

V: Yes, actually, I did.
K: I can't remember how exactly...don't tell me! Don't tell me!
V: Okay.
K: Well, maybe you could give me a hint.
V: It has to do with breathing.

And then she went on to explain the whole carbon dioxide/oxygen thing. She was six, mind. I got taught that in high school. When my aunt came back on the phone, I asked what that was all about. Turns out K's homeschooling group took a field trip to a local printers' establishment, and while they were waiting for the tour to start someone noticed the secretary's war-and-peace set-up on her desk: a Siamese fighting fish living in a glass vase that also housed a peace lily. One of the older kids started to explain to the younger ones about the symbiotic relationship involved there, and then they moved on to the one between people and plants.

My aunt homeschools K, by the way. And when my cousin's younger child is ready for it, she'll probably get homeschooled too. There are a lot of families in that section of Virginia who do that, and sometimes they get together and do things as a group. It's partly so the kids can socialize and partly so the adults can help each other out. Someone might be much better at teaching grammar than math, and vice versa. And the older children teach the younger ones--like that bit in the paragraph above. That was one of the teens who was doing a biology module at the time. I wish homeschooling had been en vogue when I was growing up. I think I would be a much better adjusted adult if I'd never experienced public school.

Not getting many presents wrapped, am I?

I think I'm going to listen to music on Napster. I've put my music on repeat, and I'm getting sick of it already.

1:18 pm: I finally decided to give the tape to the cat to sit on when I'm not using it. It'll be a little more hairy, but at least I'll know where it is. Now she wants nothing to do with it. Naturally.

1:36 pm.: Three things: 1) you've never heard anything 'til you've heard "White Christmas" on sitar and banjo; 2) how come I can fold an origami frog that will jump when you press down on his backside, and I'm good enough at origami swans that I can teach other people to do them, but I can't make a present look properly wrapped unless I've used at least a foot and a half of tape? 3) Virginia contingent's presents are done!

1:45 pm: As I put the presents into the canvas tote bag I'll be schlepping them to the UPS store in, I notice that you can tell which ones I did first by the name tags -- I got more confident with the calligraphy marker as I went along, and there is much more of a flourish in the "V" of my name by the time I get to my uncle's present than there was when I did my aunt's.

1:55 pm: Almost wrapped Dad's present without putting in the wheat's head penny I saved specially for this purpose. Custom is that if you give a wallet (or a purse) with money in it, then it will never, ever be empty. At least that's what my mom told me a long time ago. Also, my dad likes old coins. Apparently this is a family trait. All his brothers and sisters do, too, and they got it from his mother. He's passed it on to at least one of his daughters (ahem) who is at present trying to collect all 50 of the state quarters. This penny is from 1939. I got it back in change from a cup of coffee I bought at the café attached to the library where I work.

3:20 pm: Oh my goodness. Just suffered partway through a jazz quartet's version of "We Three Kings" that made me almost wish for deafness. The clarinet went off on a flight of fancy that sounded like someone strangling a duck. Slowly. Giving it time to recover a little before they attacked it again. I stubbed a toe in my hurry to get to the laptop and change songs, which momentarily distracted me from the pain in my ears.

4:16 pm: I don't think Napster radio was intended for anyone who stays as long as I have. They're starting to repeat themselves. They've done Joni Mitchell's "River" three times, and Holly Cole's version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" twice. But at least they haven't assaulted my ears with that quartet again.

I've just about finished wrapping, so I think I'm going to post this now. One final burst of irritation though: don't you hate when you cut a piece of wrapping paper and find that you're about 1/2 an inch too short, no matter which way you orient the package? I even tried doing it diagonally, but that was just too silly. Just cut another piece of paper, Vee. That's why you bought 100 square feet.

Thanks for spending the afternoon with me. Delilah gave up and went off to take a nap about an hour ago. In between songs I can hear her gently snoring in the rocking chair.

1 comment:

Just Me said...

Oh, oh, oh, I feel your pain!

Jazz quartets shouldn't play classic Christmas carols.

The tape is never where I want it, either, and when I finally find the dispenser this year, there will be nothing left but an empty white wheel because he plays with it.

I HATE that half-inch-too-short thing. I do that more often than I care to admit, even though I spent a minute or so carefully rolling the box along the paper to make sure I had enough to cover all four sides.

And yes, I love matching the pattern at the seam. I am also fussy enough to make sure that a nice bit of the paper's pattern is on top of the box. In other words, if Santa's drinking a Coke, a full image will be on top of the box, not just his hat at one end and the bottom of the bottle at the other.

No wonder I get so stressed wrapping presents.

I'll probably be wrapping the kids' stuff on Christmas eve. Ick. I won't see my dad, Frani, or my sister until the 29th, so it's just the kids, George, and in-laws that I need to worry about.