Today was my scheduled worst day of the year. Its not always on December 20th mind you. Some years, it comes sooner or later than this date. Its really awful if it comes on the 24th. It was Fred and my day to wrap Christmas presents.
We both love, love, love to buy gifts. For each other, for the kids, for friends,family, tutors, postmen
( and women), garbage men etc. It's not a burden or a chore, we don't need anything back. It makes us truly happy, just cause God made us both that way.
But when it comes to wrapping- we are also similarly matched. And unfortunately, we both happen to also believe that presents, especially under the tree kind, should be wrapped.Did I mention neither of us like wrapping? So we wait and tell ourselves it will be easier to do all at once. Only it's not. And then one day, when its dangerously close to Christmas we wake up and try to nonchalantly mention "Today's the day" while sipping coffee. As if we aren't really pushing our marriage vows to the point of 'near occasion of sin levels' by undertaking this job.
So, we sent the older kids out with the younger kids. Because unlike having adult girls in the house, having adult sons in the house, it turns out, doesn't help in any way to get presents wrapped any quicker. The most they can do is leave, with other younger siblings in tow. Sigh.
And then the laundry room becomes our make shift wrap table. It is a fact, that my laundry room table is precisely 2 inches shorter than it should be for wrapping Christmas presents . This guarantees a neck, back, and headache by the days end. But that fresh hell doesn't even happen until all those Godforsaken price tags have been removed from each and every box. You know the ones I'm talking about.The sticky price tags, adhered to the boxes with crazy glue, that are so hard to remove they make your fingernails bleed, and that come on every-single-box-sometimes-in-multiple-layers-price-tags, yep, those are the ones. And then the paper rolls come out. And the bows ( which don't get attached until Christmas Eve- in case you're taking notes), and the many pairs of scissors and tape get piled into the room. And just as we are about to start.....
Fred announces we have forgotten something, anything, and he makes a mad dash to the local store to get it. Every. single. year.
Last year, it was extra paper.This year it was labels, which I desperately tried to tell him didn't matter, because we could just write names on the boxes with markers.... which then turned into a joint half hour search for markers. Magic Markers are never in short supply in this house if you just look at the walls, floors, and a million pieces of construction paper adorned with every color marker crayola makes, but today, this day, the day it mattered most, the marker population was so sparse that I believed for a minute the Grinch had come to clean us out. The magic in my markers this year was that they disappeared.
So off Fred went smugly to the store. And I began the monumental task of wrapping. Seething a little under my breath that I was beginning this alone, again. Fred did return quickly, but I loathed him no less for abandoning me to this task for even a single minute alone. I thought that the feeling of questioning why-I-ever-married-this-man-in-the-first-place was confined to the labor room, but its not so. It visits me in my laundry room too once a year.
We start with the youngest, and work our way up. This is not without reason. We figure by the time we get to the last presents, we need the kids who get them to be the most generally tolerable in nature. Given by that time, all the gifts all look like they have been wrapped by drunk people. And we pretty much are drunk, just without liquor. We cant see straight, cant cut anymore, curse every box that is not a perfect square ( and P freaking S almost NO boxes are perfect squares!), and stumble blindly over boxes and bags, while covered in bits and pieces of scotch tape.
About an hour into it the phone rang. It was a nameless adult child. He decided he was bringing the kids back early, because he just couldn't figure out what to do with the kids. And then I heard Fred open his mouth and suddenly the gates of hell were unleashed. Because, by golly, no one was coming back into this house until every last gift was wrapped.
The good thing in all of this was after he got off the phone and told me, we both had a new target for our hate instead of each other "Aha! I agree!" Yes, its those goodfornothing children of ours fault that we have to wrap all these gifts after all! So we spent the rest do the afternoon with aching backs, paper cut fingers, indelible markers stains over our fingers, and various scraps of tape and loose paper stuck to ourselves, muttering nasty comments under our breath about our kids.
And when it was done and we stood back, and we looked at the pile of beautifully (cut me some slack here folks) wrapped presents- our own hearts grew three sizes this day too.
And momentarily, as in labor, I have forgotten the pain, in the midst of the joy.
(Now excuse us, while we run out to do a little last minute shopping...)