Every year, thousands, if not millions, fall victim to the social faux-pas called “regifting.” These poor souls get gifts given to others, gifts which were unsatisfying to the original recipient and thus have been passed along to the next unwitting giftee. There is wholesale gift-related recycling in my family, but it’s not of the content of the brightly-wrapped boxes under each year’s tree; it’s of the brightly-colored wrapping itself.
This is a challenging tradition. Most of you all out there in blog-land get to grab your gift from under the tree, tear through the wrapping paper, and fish out your precious, precious gift. In my family, it’s quite the opposite; we turn the wrapped gift around and around in our hands, understanding how the wrapping was taped together, then gently separate the tape from the wrapping, unfold the precious, reusable film, place it to the side, fold it, and then — and only then — help ourselves to our gifts.
And every year, the day before Christmas Eve, we take down a bag full of old wrapping paper, bows, cards, and ribbons, then each take turns wrapping our gifts. We find a sheet of paper about the right size for the item in question, tape a matching bow on top (the bows have been reused enough that their bases are no longer sticky), find an old card that has the name of the gifter and of the recipient on it (with just four of us, that’s an easy combination to find), then tape that card on because it too is no longer sticky. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we’ll find a piece of wrapping paper of the right size, with a card already stuck on with the right sender and the right recipient. Why, some of the wrapping paper we use goes back to high school for me, and some of the ornaments and bows are even older than I am.
Then, Christmas morning, the little family gets together, we sit around the poinsettia (my grandmother’s apatment is too small for a tree), we see the same familiar paper and bags and bows and wrappings, and we talk as we slowly open our gifts, then take out this year’s new wonders from inside.