This is the final day of my countdown to Christmas Eve, and in just 24 hours Philippe I will begin opening presents! For today’s prompt, however, we have just a single little gift and some scissors. When I was a kid, we wouldn’t get our presents until Christmas Day, but his tradition is to give them out the evening before. Since this meant getting them a bit early, I was happy to adopt his tradition as my own so long as we still got stockings on Christmas morning. This, along with blueberry muffins as that’s what my mother always made. What I didn’t discover until after making this agreement is that he doesn’t want to even see any of the wrapped gifts until the final moment. I’ve begged for a compromise and asked that some be placed under the tree today so it doesn’t look so barren. He looked at me and smiled in that way he has that implies neither agreement nor argument. A sort of “that’s adorable” look that doesn’t usually deliver any results at all. Without asking, I snuck the present that he’s getting from Phineas under the tree figuring, if nothing else, he wouldn’t be able to argue with the dog.
I wrapped most of Philippe’s gifts this afternoon and confirmed again my complete lack of patience for the sport of gift concealment. I start with good intentions, but get immediately bored and start cutting and bending the paper like a madman in hopes the gift will disappear already. Once the poor package has been throttled into submission, often loosely clothed in wrinkled wrapping paper, I move on to the second step. This one is very important as it involved bits of ribbon and bows that can hopefully revive the gift and make it look presentable. The issue is, I’ve never learned to use ribbon properly and so I sort of tape it on where I think it should go, like I’m painting it in, hiding the majority of the tape on the bottom and to one side. This leaves a perfectly respectable side that looks quite passable under the tree. When it comes time to open gifts, we select and bring the gift to the other person. I carefully present my gift’s good side to Philippe and it’s ripped open before he has time to fully notice my ruse. At least that’s how it plays out in my imagination. In reality, I get a “that’s adorable” expression again.
But as long as the gift arrives properly hidden, the evening is ready to commence. It’s a fabulous night of surprises that makes it my absolute favorite of the year. And thankfully, if Philippe has a “practical” gift he usually sneaks that into my stocking the following day. Like the year that next to the handful of Belgian chocolates and Pez dispensers I found a little wrapped gift I thought was a fountain pen. I gave him a sly glance and excitedly began to open it only to discover a nose and ear hair trimmer. Being reminded of your actual age when you’re fully lost in the delusion of pretending to be a child is a bit like suffering whiplash. But, in the end, all gifts are given with love, and each is special, if for wildly different reasons. So, tomorrow, I’ll attack the last remaining little presents with my questionable style, cursing to myself along the way, still deliriously happy. With each bit of poorly placed tape, I’m reminded that this moment is special, and it will be a full year before I’ll enjoy my bumbling version of dressing boxes in holiday drag, with my earnest and heartfelt imitation of wrapping gifts for Christmas Eve.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Quinacridone Red, Quinacridone Gold, Cobalt Blue and Payne’s Gray. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.