In Praise of Gift Wrapping

I enjoy wrapping and unwrapping gifts, and I especially enjoy watching unwrapped gifts lie untouched on the desk or under the Christmas tree, teasing my curiosity. 

Who can say which gifts are the most precious? Those we receive unexpectedly? Those that come from afar? Those that need a long time to reach us, and for which we wait with a certain unease, not knowing whether they will be here today or tomorrow?

Or maybe the gifts we give ourselves? But then we never wrap those. The best-wrapped gifts always tend to come from others.

Over the years I have received many wonderful gifts. Some I longed for. Others came unexpectedly. I have received old books, more than a hundred years old. I have received Egyptian tarot cards. I have received an eyelash in a tiny box, courageously plucked after many tries. I have received journals and wooden pencils, nudges to write and rewrite my life anew.

I have also given gifts which I like to think were special. Crankshaft music boxes that never stopped playing. Rainbow boxes filled with photographs and candy. Soap ducks which must have seen a thing or two. Watches whose careful ticking bounded in a rounded frame the importance of time and chained it in hours.

Because I enjoy unwrapping gifts so much, I always try to wrap my gifts well. Gift wrapping is, to some extent, like putting on good clothes for a special occasion. Once it is removed, it makes the naked sentiment within all the more beautiful.

Sometimes I spend a ridiculous amount of time wrapping a gift and at the end I’m still not happy with the result and wrap it again some other way.

Alongside old gifts I treasure, I keep in a drawer of my nightstand bits of wrapping from gifts I particularly liked. In the wrapping I find at least as much sentiment as in the gift itself. It amuses me when someone goes over the top and wraps the thing so well that I’m baffled as to how to proceed to open it without tearing out the wrapping.

If every gift is a story, then the wrapping may not be the plot or the character, but it surely is a fine description, one that’s worth reading and rereading. To take the time to wrap a gift well is a noble thing indeed, one that only good spirited people can accomplish. People who may not have time but who nevertheless find it. People who do not do only things that they have to, but also things that they want to. People who are not merely alive, but who live.

So, I urge you all to wrap the gifts you give well. Spare no wrapping paper, choose the best ribbons you can find, and take as much time as you want, even if eager hands will tear it apart in a moment. Not everyone may collect gift-wrapping like I do. But everyone will appreciate it.

PS: What is the most unusual gift you have ever received? I don’t ask this only to trick you into leaving me a new comment — I would really like to know.

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