Lacking labels, but not laughter


December 10, 2020

Christmas has changed a lot since I was a kid. Our gatherings have gotten smaller, our menus have changed drastically, and our gifting has gotten more strategic. One thing, however, has remained constant: My mom has yet to find a way to label her magazine-worthy wrapped gifts so she can remember who gets what, and it has become one of the most looked-forward-to parts of the holiday.

It’s not for a lack of trying: She’s tried using color-coded wrapping paper, which works wonderfully if you stick with your plan 100 percent of the way. She’s tried color-coded bows, which worked great until the cats got involved. She’s tried using name tags, but, really… who has time to put a name on every gift when you can just give each bag a little shake if needed?

I have memories of opening up something like a sweater with my name written clear as day on the label, holding it up, and seeing that it was obviously too small.

“Yeah, that was supposed to be for Emily (my sister),” she always says, trying hard to contain her giggles. My dad chimes in with something along the lines of ‘maybe we should label them’ (jokes on him, eh?), and I make half an effort to re-wrap the item with what’s left of the gift wrap before handing it back to my sister. It’s always fun, and my mom is a good sport about it.

Now, before the wrapping paper starts flying, we all joke around, making light-hearted bets about who will open someone else’s gift first, with my mom giving her usual ‘just let me inspect them first’ spiel.

As I get older, I realize how much my mom and I are alike. Christmas has become a glaring example, as I, too, cannot label gifts for the life of me. Last year, I tried to blame the lack of name tags on a curious toddler, but I don’t think I’ll be able to use that excuse this year. It’s a little easier to peek in gifts at my house, though, because I did not inherit my mother’s gift wrapping talents, and I am a firm believer in gift bags and tissue paper.


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