I remember when I was a kid and I was lucky enough to live in a home where there was a pile of wrapped gifts under the Christmas Tree, taunting me all December about what marvels might be inside the boxes. Christmas morning would come and me and my siblings would finally get to rip open the paper and discover what was inside. Looking back now I can clearly remember holding wrapped presents, wondering, dreaming, and the fun of tearing wrapping paper. But I can’t really remember what gifts were inside – most likely toys and books that contribute to my childhood memories of play – but no specific memory has made it into my long term memory vault of opening a specific gift.
I was reminded of this last week when my daughter celebrated a long-awaited birthday. Born late in November she feels that she has to wait longer than everyone else for her birthday to come. I placed a pile of gifts on the dining table a few days before her birthday, so she could savour that the long awaited event was getting closer. She looked at the pretty papers, lifted the gifts, mirroring my own childhood actions. Then on the morning of her birthday she ripped through the presents like she was competing in a sporting event – rip paper, look at gift, discard, grab next gift, rip paper….Clearly the fun part was anticipation and dreaming….then the ripping.
As an adult I don’t get to contemplate piles of Christmas gifts under the Christmas tree and dream about what wonders they might hold. In the interests of making Christmas easier for our family we have moved to the system Kris Kringle (Secret Santa) or the present game where everyone brings a gift and you draw a number out of a hat and then get to choose a gift from the pile. Which means the risk of disappointment in my single Christmas gift is quite high. I need to be careful here, yes I always appreciate the effort from my Secret Santa, but I am a hard person to buy a gift for – being one of those tree-hugging greenie, left-leaning, vegetarian, indie-music types. And for the past 14 years I have lived overseas or interstate from my family, disconnected from their daily lives, not really knowing what books they have read, music they are into, or even what size clothing they have grown or shrunk into during the year. And being a tree-hugging, greenie, left-leaning, vegetarian, indie-music type there are particular gifts that I have given that have been received with a smile and a slightly raised eye-brow.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Re-gifiting. We have all done it. I watched my husband do it this week when he finished a book that “left him a bit cold” (as he put it) so he wrapped it up for the office Christmas party. I have kept gifts that my children were given at parties such as books we already had, or games they were not interested in playing, and re-wrapped them for the next birthday invitation they received. But we are not supposed to talk about it, as it feels impolite, ungrateful.
It is time to change that, and a recent post from www.brainpickings.org will help us. They have developed an icon and logo that you can use in wrapping gifts that lets the recipient know that you support the idea of re-gifting, and encourage it if the specific gift is just not quite right. You can find the post here, complete with downloadable files and instructions on making gift paper, stamps, stencils, and gift cards. Being that greenie type, I was going to wrap all our Christmas gifts this year in recycled newspaper, brightened up with a stencil of some kind. Now I know the stencil I will use!