As well as a time for giving and receiving presents, Christmas is also about thinking of those less fortunate, who might not be able to take part in the whole gift-exchange thing. But personally, I can’t help thinking how lucky they are, because they avoid the worst thing about Christmas – having to wrap the goddamn things.
I’m firmly with Dave Barry on this. He pointed out that the Bible wrote about gold, frankincense and myrrh, without mentioning wrapping paper anywhere. This tells us two things about the people giving the gift: a) they were wise, and b) they were men. The desire to wrap seems an almost entirely feminine trait, and the point of it largely escapes me; an extra few seconds delay before you know what it is is hardly going to make a difference. And no matter how nicely tied up with ribbon they are, handkerchiefs are still handkerchiefs.
Present-wrapping is thus one of the things I do out of a sense of traditional obligation and, to be honest, it shows. My parcels tend, like The Force, to have a light side and a dark side. From the front, all appears calm and smooth, but turn them over to reveal a nightmarish mess of multiple applications of sticky tape, gobbets of wrapping paper and blood-spatters (I can never work those sticky-tape dispensers at the best of times, no matter while one hand is holding down two recalcitrant flaps of spring-propelled festive greetings).
And that’s a best case scenario, where the present in question is relatively Euclidean. Books, DVDs and CDs are fine, but step outside those and you enter a topological nightmare of n-Space where it’ll take longer to wrap an object than it did to find it, buy it and bring it home in the first place. Just as many objects can be deformed into the same basic shape, so all presents will end up looking like a burst football run over by a Chieftain tank, if you apply enough wrapping paper. Mind you, we men do consider things like Klingon battle daggers fine presents to give and receive, if not perhaps to wrap. We only have ourselves to blame in such cases.
This is where gift-wrapping services come in, and it’s no surprise that the only present of mine which looks half-decent is the one that was wrapped in store. A younger, more innocent version of me once walked into a shop that offered such a perk, only to be sadly disappointed when told that, no, you actually had to buy the item there. This seemed terribly unfair, and ever since, it has been my dream to find a store in the mall that doesn’t just sell wrapping paper and Sellotape, they also install it for you. If it’s good enough for household appliances and car parts, it should be good enough for Christmas presents.
Alternatively, there’s an awful lot of money to be made out of duct tape with a festive theme – just wrap it around the present until it’s completely covered, and there you are, all ready to place under the tree. But failing that, I guess I’ll just have to wish for peace on Earth and goodwill to men, like everyone else. May you all have a happy festive season, and get whatever you want – nicely wrapped or not!