Naomi’s Annual “I Am Not Martha Stewart” Gift-Wrapping Angst Fest
I am a crappy gift-wrapper.
I just wrapped my husband’s two holiday gifts. The small one turned out okay. Not Martha Stewart-worthy, but not laughable either.
My wrapping job on the large second gift was verkakte. Verkakte is a Yiddish word that roughly translates to “screwed up.” It also roughly translates to “oy, vey, Naomaleh, you’re 42 years old and you can’t even wrap a present!”
I gave up after the first attempt, which involved huge wedges of penguin wrapping paper draped every which way in the room. After shredding huge piles of penguin paper into the recycling bin (so I could at least pretend I wasn’t being wasteful), I started again. I tried really, really hard to get the edges nice and tight. When that proved, er, unlikely, I just tried to make it look nice. In lieu of this, I tried to at least coat every inch of the gift in penguin paper so that the gift itself was actually concealed.
As a result, there is now a large, penguin-coated blob under our Christmas tree. (Yes, we have a Christmas tree. My two deceased Baubies and two deceased Zadies are all turning in their graves, but that’s the subject of my other annual holiday angst).
Now, I realize that the actual contents of these gifts will make my husband happy. I may be a crappy wrapper, but I’m an excellent shopper. (Sadly, in our capitalist society, “excellent shopper” is an actual skill.) My husband is kind of the opposite. He’s not much of a shopper, but he’s a decent wrapper. Every year, I stack the presents I bought in front of him with “To: From” information, and he proceeds to wrap them proficiently.
But I can’t very well ask him to wrap his own presents. So every year — every single year — I have my annual angst-fest that involves me bemoaning my inability to make the corners perfectly smooth. This year, I walked past the beautiful “premium wrapping paper” at Target, and remembered a friend’s suggestion that I buy some, since the good stuff is easier to wrap with. I actually laughed at the premium wrapping paper. I haven’t earned the premium wrapping paper. I haven’t passed Moderately-Priced Penguin Paper 101.
And I care… why?
Because women are supposed to be able to do things like wrap beautiful gifts. Right? I mean, Claire and Gloria from Modern Family — you better believe that their gifts look fantastic, and so do Leslie Knope’s gifts on Parks and Recreation, and, well, there isn’t a single imaginary woman on TV who doesn’t wrap amazing imaginary presents. When I clean my bathroom, it’s supposed to be so shiny that my family will want to eat off the floor. My family photos are supposed to be arranged artistically on my tastefully-painted walls at perfect right angles. If my child loses a button, I’m supposed to be right there with a thread and needle. Oh, and I’m supposed to be a size six and look like Padma Lakshmi.
It’s so funny how these images we measure ourselves against invade our psyches, even when we know they’re b.s. When I see my neighbor’s framed photos arranged on her walls in a magazine-worthy pattern, I zap myself with a mental demerit. When I see beautiful photos of a friend’s tree on Facebook with all the bows facing in the same direction, I give myself another demerit.
So, then. This year, I suppose it’s time to give myself the gift of losing the demerits. And not even by talking myself down with language like, “Well, your friends wrap prettier presents, but hey, you’ve written a dissertation.” Even if I were a horrible failure at every other aspect of my life, the inability to wrap presents that measure up to the Size Six Domestic Goddess Working Mother Superwoman standard is NOT a problem. Not even a little problem.
So I hearby forgive myself for the penguin blob sitting under the tree.
On a related note, I fully expect that someday soon, TLC or HGTV will come up with a show called Wrapping Wars. Teams of Martha wanna-bes will compete to have the most beautifully wrapped pile of presents under the tree. And Padma Lakshmi would be the perfect host.