My husband and I have different ideas about gift wrapping for the holiday season. In the past, he took care of the wrapping without my assistance. Now, because his disability is worsening, I have been called upon to be the gift-wrapping assistant.
Do you have cycles that play out relentlessly in your relationships? I could predict how the afternoon would end even before it began. But I am clueless about how to break out of the routine.
Here’s the pattern.
PREPARATION FOR GIFT WRAPPING
My husband worries that we do not have enough boxes to wrap items. So, starting months before Christmas, I began storing empty ones in the already crammed guest room closet.
Next is the shopping trip. Without looking to see whether we have sufficient bows, ribbon, tape, nametags, shirt boxes, etc., he buys as I trail along, whining that we have sufficient supplies and do not need more. He ignores me, claiming the other paper is old and outdated.
I shut up because having a yelling match in the aisles of Walmart is tacky. (Note: In my defense, I pulled out the paper and found a whole package purchased last year that had never been opened. Also, several rolls bought years ago have not been touched.)
PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES IN GIFT WRAPPING
The problem is that I am a believer in “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” This permeates my life. If the cake doesn’t look good but tastes good, I am happy. Honestly, I don’t believe anyone cares what the wrapping looks like, they only care about what’s beneath. So, when I am in charge, I take shortcuts.
My husband, however…. Gift wrapping rules are important to him.
ACTUAL GIFT WRAPPING
Next, the dance of when the wrapping is to begin starts. As my daughter and grandson were coming to the house and unwrapped gifts for them were piled in the guest room, I asked if we could wrap the exposed presents that afternoon. But alas, no. He was not ready and had to prep/psych up (whatever) before beginning.
After huffing and whining to friends, I moved the gifts to a nearby table and threw a blanket over them.
Finally, with Christmas closing in, he announced he was ready, asking that I get out all the materials and put them on the kitchen island and the gifts on the table. “Aye, aye, Captain. Your wish is my command.” By the time I dragged out everything the island was covered, and empty boxes were littered on the floor.
Hubby takes his seat at the island while I hoover nearby.
Hubby: “Clear half the island so I can put out the paper.”
Me: I do as I am told.
Hubby: Pointing to various shopping bags of crap, “Bring those to me.”
Me: I do as I am told.
Hubby: “I told you I needed the space cleared.”
Me: “But you told me to bring you those bags.” Grimacing, I clear the spot for the second time.
Hubby: Laying out the paper, he counts the squares on the back of the wrapping paper to ensure he has cut it to size. (Note: I roll my eyes. I never count the squares.) Several times he instructs me to run the paper cutter. “Keep going! Don’t stop! You’ll ruin the cut.”
Me: Tamping down my mounting anger, I respond, “My arms are too short! I can’t follow the seam until I move!”
Hubby: “Give me that roll of paper.”
Me: “What? You are going to wrap that box that has a cute picture of a penguin and snow on it? Why?” (Note: the shirt in a plastic sleeve is in the box. Had it been me I would have just thrown wrapping paper around the shirt and not put it in the box.)
Hubby: Now exasperated. “It has to be wrapped.”
After an hour and a half of this, I pull out my Jack Daniels rye and sip it straight. Thank goodness he decided to call a halt. Had I been in charge, every package would have been under the tree. Now I must get up the nerve to endure another round of wrapping.
LAST THOUGHTS ON GIFT WRAPPING
The real issue here is control and different strategies for getting things done. Any thoughts on how I should handle the next session?