Thursday, November 29, 2007

Check out my sidebar doll - she's redecorated for the holidays. She looks just like me, doncha think? The only unrealistic part is, look, she's already got her packages wrapped and under the tree. Now, THAT'S not believable!

I meant to tell you the Search for the Perfect Wrapping Paper story a few days ago but I've been busy shopping (for, among other things, duh, WRAPPING PAPER) and other seasonal activities (like talking on the phone and doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen and making soup) and then there was a series of bouts of whatever you call a headache/back ache/stomach ache combo. And of course there was that two hours watching White Christmas and addressing holiday cards and the half hour of watching the new holiday special, Shrek the Halls. (I SO want to make a toilet seat wreath for my front door! I won't. But I want to.) Anyway, so I haven't felt much like being on the computer.

One of the things I did was sort out the bags of gifts that have been piling up in the corner of the studio over the last few months. This isn't an official from-the-list pile, although there's a few list items already purchased. Mostly it's a pile of things I've stumbled across and thought "Oh, she'd love this" or "I HAVE to get one of those for him!" The real listmaking and gift collecting begins when I sort out this hodge podge and find out what I've already bought and what's missing and for who. I really really really don't want to repeat the holiday faux pas of a couple years ago where I somehow managed not to buy a single personal gift for my son Joe. Even though I overcompensated for it heavily the next year, he still won't let me forget that I forgot him and I'm betting he never will.

This year I decided the most important thing to do was to sort out the gifts that require mailing and tackle the whole buying/making, wrapping, and off-go-the-post-office process. It's a real priority for me this year as I put it off last year and ended up NEVER SENDING ANYTHING to my siblings or parents. Our family has a tradition of late gift sending, so I didn't worry about it. But time kept sliding forward and except for my mom's last year's birthday (Oct. 31) and Christmas gifts, which I finally mailed to her just a couple of months ago, now that the holidays are again upon us, I think we can safely say I've long since passed the fashionably late argument and have arrived solidly in the I TOTALLY FORGOT stage.

I wanted to wrap the few things I already had sorted into the "to mail" category, so I dug my wrapping paper box out of the holiday boxes and was beyond thrilled to discover it contained three small scraps of paper that each barely made it around a cardboard tube. YAH! A few years ago I'd bought a bunch of those huge 6,000 square feet rolls of wrapping paper and I've been using the same pattern for what seems like an eternity. I was sooooo ready to be done with it. This meant I could go buy NEW wrapping paper!

Last year my friend Jaye blogged about the very environmentally friendly idea to make and use fabric gift bags in lieu of paper. I was intrigued but at first I resisted the idea - I argued that I LIKED to use wrapping paper. You can read Jaye's original post and her response to my arguments here.

What Jaye didn't know when she was wrangling with my arguments was that, halfway through the last year's wrapping season, I came to the realization that I really only liked wrapping the first dozen gifts or so. With such a large family and my habit of getting people multiple small gifts instead of one large gift, the first dozen gifts is just a small dent in the mountain of packages I wrap each December.

I'd also argued that I would get tired of using the same gift bags year after year. Of course the reality was I wasn't using different wrapping paper year after year. I've been wrapping gifts in the same patterns for decades. Or at least it seems that way. But I also had been using a dozen sturdy decorative boxes for about as long, before they finally started falling apart and ended up as kindling a couple of years ago. I missed those boxes. People had enjoyed checking out all the old "To:/From:" stickers on the bottom, discovering which family members had been given that particular box in years past, remembering which boxes they'd received, which boxes they liked best. It also occurred to me that our family has a stash of about a dozen paper gift bags in assortd sizes that we have used and reused for every birthday, anniversary and graduation for the last half dozen years.

Clearly my arguments against the idea of using fabric gift bags were starting to crumble. And when I consider the rather large unused stash of holiday fabric hidden away in a box in the studio closet, the idea becomes more and more appealing. Jaye even sent me a gift bag she'd made so I could have an example to use as a template. I decided gift bag making was probably in my future.

HOWEVER, I'm at that point in the holiday season where I've had to start dropping projects from my fantasy schedule and making gift bags became one of the first to go. I don't have the time and I really wanted to use wrapping paper again this year in order to play with the box of vintage holiday ribbons my mother sent me this summer. (I just realized I could have used ribbons with gift bags as well but, hey, next year I'll have to experiment with that, assuming I manage to make gift bags by next December.)

I knew exactly what kind of wrapping paper I wanted to buy. I had this "LOOK" in my head. Some solid colors, small innocuous pattern so I could show off my ribbons against it and/or something botanical in deep, rich colors and/or something lacey and old fashioned and shabby chic. Excitedly, off I went to bring home something new and wonderful.

I'd forgotten about the fact that I live in a small town with limited shopping opportunities. I had about a half dozen potential shops - Walmart, Walgreens, a couple of supermarkets, and a couple of discount stores. NONE of them had anything remotely botanical or lacy or chic. Pout.

What they had was lots of paper displaying Disney princesses, Shrek, Spiderman, Dora, and Barbie. There were the to-be-expected Santas, snowmen, and trees. Last but not least, there was a lot of 50's style retro prints which I actually liked. Cute. It's just, retro wasn't what I had in mind.

Walmart had the most wrapping paper but they really didn't have a larger selection, they just had 2,000 rolls of each style. And because folks who work at minimum wage jobs sometimes don't have a huge supply of enthusiasm for their jobs, the display boxes were jammed in so that all of one pattern was twenty rows back, all of another pattern was midway to the front, and all the front row was another. In an effort to find choices I ended up pulling boxes off the shelves, knocking piles this way and that in true Jerry Lewis slapstick style. I was so frustrated and angry at having to wrestle those heavy display boxes just to get past the pawns of Disney paper I didn't even feel guity at the mess I left behind. The same sort of display problems existed at the drug store and I gave up rearranging their aisles after noticing they wanted me to pay twice as much for the same amount of wrapping paper. Safeway, which I had noticed had some nice paper just a few days earlier, was completely out of stock.

I finally gave up my dream of finding the perfect wrapping paper patterns and settled for some more predictable but nice rolls I found at Walgreens. Though even there, the task was challenging. Someone had the brilliant idea that they should stock their wrapping paper on the TOP shelf, barely in reach for someone like me who just barely stretches beyond five feet. They made up for it though by having a sale - $2.99 for one roll, get a second roll for a penny. I bought six rolls. (and no, not 6,000 square feet each)

The cashier rang up my purchases and then apologized that they weren't coming up for the sale price. We looked at the sale flyer together, trying to figure out the problem. The manager came over and he said the sale had been last week. At this point I just wanted to buy some paper and go home. I asked what the cost of the paper was so I could decided whether I wanted to buy one or two or maybe three rolls and leave the rest behind, depending on the cost.

The cashier said "$4.26"

"Per roll!" That seemed awfully expensive to me.

"No" she said, "that's your total."

"My total? You mean the cost of all six rolls is $4.26!?"

"All six rolls plus tax, yes."

The manager just shrugged and said "If that's what it came up at, then I guess that's your total."

I wrote my check out quickly, before they could figure out that couldn't possibly be correct.

The next day I found a few a few more rolls at the local grocery outlet. Now I've got enough to wrap all my gifts and of course the kids will all arrive with bags full of unwrapped gifts, asking "Where's the wrapping paper!? Don't look! Coming through!" and hurry off to a back room to use my paper to wrap their presents. But hopefully I won't have any, or at least not much left, when the year is over.

This morning my daughter-in-law, who knew about my paper search, called. "Have you been to Target!? They've got wrapping paper just exactly like you're looking for at Target!"

In the excitement of discovery, she'd forgotten a key fact - the closest Target to my home is a hundred miles away. I responded sarcastically "Oh yes, I was there just this morning."

She laughed at me!

"Bitch." And of course I mean that in only the most loving of ways.


Lori said...

oh boy!!! now i am having a panic attack...thank you very much...i have not even started my Christmas shopping and if i am reading this correctly, you are already at the wrapping stage...eeeeek...

Belita Rose said...

I thought just maybe when you were there a few weeks a ago you might have seen them, and that maybe I could pick some up for you. I was at Target yesterday and I saw that many people are in the same mood that you are and that most of that kind were sold out. But again there are at least four more Targets that are close by that I will probably be going by at some point and I can also get my mom to look at the three by her house. So if you really want them let me know. You really should move closer to a Target. He he!