Wrapping gifts was up at the top of my “gotta do” list for the weekend. Our tree has been up for almost two weeks, and it has looked so forlorn standing there with nothing underneath.
I used to love to go Christmas shopping. I’d go to Albany, Macon or Atlanta to the malls and walk up and down every aisle, thinking out each gift for each person on my list. Somehow, with the years, that part of the shopping experience no longer appeals. At first I thought it was the crowds I didn’t like anymore, but I’ve figured out that it isn’t the crowded stores that I’m trying to avoid. What was annoying me was listening to people complain – about the long lines, about the lack of customer service, and, in some cases, about the season in general. The more I listened, the more I found myself doing the same thing – complaining. And that’s just not what Christmas should be about – is it.
Several years ago, I began to shop online. I can sit at my laptop listening to my favorite Christmas CD, surf the web through dozens of stores in minutes instead of hours (and not have to buy gasoline or find a parking space), shop sales (and wow, have there been online sales THIS year), and order gifts with the “click” of a key. This year, even the dreaded “shipping fees” have been cut from a large majority of retailers. It’s just an easy way to get it done, and I’m still in a great mood when I’m finished – instead of ready to bite nails in half.
Then comes my favorite part – wrapping the gifts – which is definitely a learned trait for me. Years ago, when I was working, my boss (Helen, who is now my best friend in the whole world), Rho (another good friend who also worked with the school system), and I exchanged gifts at Christmas. The first year we did that, I brought in their gifts wrapped in holiday paper, with a bow from one of those “25 bows for $1.99” bags punched through each of the boxes. Rho and Helen had wrapped their gifts with the most beautiful paper I had ever seen, and tied them with REAL RIBBON. They even had little doodads attached to spruce up the gifts even more – an ornament I could hang on the tree the next year, a sprig of greenery, or maybe a little twig with red berries. Talk about mortified!
The next year I had someone teach me how to tie a bow with cloth ribbon, and when Christmas rolled around again I was ready! Since then I have loved wrapping. I never know how any gift will turn out when I start – it’s always a surprise at the end. Of course, the guys in the family couldn’t care less – I could put their gifts in a grocery sack, and they would be just as happy. But the girls love it, sometime saving the ribbon, bows, and “bling” to use on their gifts next year. That always makes me smile.
I wrapped for about two hours Saturday night, then went out to sit on the porch and watch it rain. Ted had made the second fire of the weekend, and sitting there in the dark, watching the rain and the fire, was the perfect way to end the day. The tile under the wood stove gets toasty warm, and Maddie loves to curl up almost under the stove and nap.
Sunday afternoon three friends from the lake and I drove into Albany to meet cousins Wanda and Julie and Julie’s sister at the Albany Little Theatre for a play – Christmas Belles. It was about a church Christmas program gone horribly wrong, and was so funny. It got us all even more into the spirit of the holiday.
Before the play started, this gentlemen came out on stage and welcomed everyone. He asked that we turn off our cell phones and cameras. Then he said, “We found someone’s keys in the ticket office.” He held them up. No one said anything, but you could hear people scrambling around in their purses. He said, “There are a couple of attachments on the key ring – one says CVS Family Card, and the other says Panhandle Pet Store.” Well, that sent me diving into my purse. No keys. I sheepishly raised my hand (we were on the next to the last row), and shouted, “They’re mine.” Of course, everyone in the whole audience turned to look. I turned around and glared at all six girls and said, “Don’t you dare tell Ted about this!” They promised they wouldn’t, and they didn’t – until we were halfway home. Then Sally called Ted and told him the whole story. But then Ted confessed that he had run a load of clothes in the washer and discovered that my cell phone was in the pocket of my jeans he had just washed. He didn’t have a lot to say about the lost keys.
The drive back to the lake was through the worse fog I have been in for a very long time. I literally drove about 40 mph the whole way home, and we saw deer on the side of the road in three different places. We would be almost on top of them before their shapes would appear like ghosts out of the mist. We were glad to get home without a mishap.
A busy week ahead – appointments, more gift wrapping, and . . . a trip into Albany to get a new cell phone – mine seems to have drown.