Putting a wrap on 2023


Have you ever seen a dog try to play with a ball…that’s me trying to wrap Christmas packages.
I do it right. I really do. I get everything out and make room by moving all my furniture to the walls. I do my stretching and yoga with Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ in my mind.
It’s go time.
My wife still has bins and bins and bins of wrapping paper in the basement with other bins and bins of bows. She never met a roll of wrapping paper she didn’t love or a bag of bows she could walk past.
I have those separated and organized into certain wraps for certain purposes, kids’ paper, girl’s paper, boy’s paper, themed paper from holiday movies, wrap for adults, wrap for dogs, and all the accoutrements like ribbons and tags.
After the downward facing dog and that weird archery pose, I do one final stretch and sit down.
Wait, I forgot the scissors and the tape. Back up and into the hallway to grab that drawered-box thing. It has the scissors, tape, pens, and small scraps of wrap in it, too.
Back to the living room. I stretch over to the coffee table to grab the remote and flip on the television but go to the music setting and play Michael Bubble’s (I guess it’s Buble’) latest Christmas crooning.
Music – check. Wrapping, scissors, ribbons, bows, tags – check. I look around for what’s next.
Gifts to wrap.
Back up to the other hallway to this six-foot stack of presents stacked on the floor in everything from boxes to sacks, to bags, to tubes. Humbug is starting to enter the back recesses of my mind.
I start looking at all the labels because some people send gifts to me, organize things and then trudge back into the Great Hall of Wrapping that is my living room.
I love boxed gifts. They are easy to wrap unless you have no sense of spatial relationships. Which I clearly don’t. You would be flabbergasted at the number of times I have a rectangle to wrap, and I have to do additional surgical removal of one end or both of the wrapping paper because I started with waaaay too much.
I also fear stretching too far while kneeling and running the scissors down the dotted line, they now imprint on the inside of the wrapping paper for dufuses like me that can’t cut a straight line.
And I always grab the scissors that won’t perfectly execute the slide cut. I’m absolutely positive I invented that. And just when I had it perfected, they go and start leaving microscopic gaps between the scissor blades (or I’m just a cheapskate) you can’t get that nice razor slice of the paper. Instead I get catches every couple of inches that snarl the pretty paper as I try not to re-strain my back cutting the full length.
Don’t even get me started on unorthodox gift items like the fishing pole I bought my nephew last year. That thing about made it into the Mississippi River with no bait. But my daughter came to the rescue and saved the day with a cardboard wrapping tube and some creative cardboard work. She’s a genius. And she loves, Loves, LOVES to wrap packages. I should write her a check and sit back with a spiked hot chocolate, or spiked hot apple cider, or spiked glass of ice.
But I forge ahead. Singing way off key to Micheal Bubble and his litany of Christmas melodies. My parakeets Jonnie and Frankie sing along, too, but I don’t believe they're singing. I think they're crying. I am waaay off key.
As the packages slowly and ugily (yeah, that’s not a word, but I like it and it fits) pile up to the left of me, my knees are telling me to get off the damn floor, so I start moving the things to the tree in the other room.
Now I like to have gifts cascading out from under the tree and have them pouring out onto the living room floor, then Santa comes in and is required to stack all his crap around the perimeter. At least that’s what I leave on my note for him.
“Dear Santa, don’t set your crap on top of mine! Enjoy the Jameson, sundried tomato sliced turkey, and pepper-jack cheese.” You must tell Santa Claus what’s on the plate if it’s not cookies, because he has tunnel vision, and a very picky palate.
It usually takes me about four days to wrap everything. And by that, I mean the 45 minutes to an hour per day that I can stomach doing it before Christmas Eve. Fortunately, Taylor usually flies in about three days beforehand and she’s a wicked relief pitcher. She bails me out of the bad start, and I can breathe easier.
I keep her company and she will usually take over the big screen and put on Christmas movies that aren’t on her Christmas Eve schedule. Usually something like Fred Clause or one of the sequels to The Santa Clause. The original is on her Christmas Eve list and you don’t screw with the Christmas Eve list.
Not if you don’t want the stink-eye from that tradition soldier. You never even suggest a different agenda for Christmas Eve with her, you’re just along for the ride on that one.
I’m looking forward to Christmas Eve this year. Mom is spending the night here so she doesn’t have to leave early to get here on Christmas Day. She likes to see Taylor as much as she can when she’s back, so this works out.
I usually snack all day but drink a lot of water as I know Christmas will be a meal heavy day. Our Christmas Eve finale is A Christmas Story with Ralphie and Randy. When Randy can’t put his arms down, I know Christmas has arrived.
I think I used to wish for Christmas gifts in this column for some of our readership. I think that’s a good tradition that I will re-start here.
To Mayor Matt Mohrfeld, I wish a full year of city governance without a Pen City Current Freedom of Information request. For Sheriff Stacy Weber, a full year without a traffic fatality. For Your Heat & Air Guy Tom Schulz, one day to sleep in. For FMHS Head Coach Derek Doherty a speedy 6’4” 220 lb. tight end with great hands and a nose for the endzone; for Brad Randolph, a year without getting stung (even if it is healthy); to Kate and Timm Lamb, a case of Goo Goo Clusters (since Timm ate mine); for Mark Pothitakis a year free of filling cavities - because that means I don’t have any.; to Bobby Holtkamp a gentle horse; And for my friend Charlie Scoville - a wonderful Christmas back at home.
To everyone else, Happy Holidays. Now let's get that snow! - but that’s Beside The Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

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