NORMAN — Wrapping packages beautifully seems to be genetic. Those who can do it like it. Others let “Mom” do it.
Mary’s family teases her for buying reams of paper and dozens of bows. “They’ll be handy the next wedding or baby shower,” she says.
Her packages are lovely. She gets them wrapped at the mall.
Most families keep miles of the wonderful plastic tape they love to hate. June bakes Halloween cookies for nieces and nephews.
“Stop eating,” she scolds kids and husband. “My mailing list seems to be in your stomachs already.”
June is one of those challenged by wrapping with the great plastic wonder. The first strip usually winds up around her arm.
“I can do this,” she mutters. “I refuse to let this tape defeat me.”
She pulls out a lengthy strip, presses around the box and grabs it on the other side. “Oh, no! it’s stuck to the table.”
She yanks the strip off and half the varnish comes off with it. She’s reached the point she talks to the tape dispenser: “I’ll make you a deal: Just let me finish wrapping these packages, and I’ll give you a refill.”
By the time June’s husband gets home, the chair, couch and end tables are taped together. There’s an odd creature staring out from rows of tape that stick arms to the body.
“June?” he calls, “Is that you in there?”
“What does it look like? All right, it’s the plastic tape monster. Do you think you could give me a hand here?’
Everyone knows the friend or relative who wraps perfect packages. Everybody resists putting packages next to those.
James is caught moving every package, large and small, looking for his own, hidden only that morning.
“Why are you rearranging all Mom’s birthday gifts?” his oldest daughter says. “I just stacked them perfectly. Now they’re in a jumble again. Now I know why they’re messed up every time I come in here.”
“I was just looking for the one I’m giving her,” he says. “I wanted to write something else in the card.”
She helps him look, thinking he may then stop crushing all the wrappings. “Where did you put it?” she says.
“Somewhere behind everything. It’s hidden by several boxes.”
“Why did you hide it?”
Her dad looks a bit sheepish. “I didn’t want it to put all the others to shame,” he teases. “You know how lovely my wrapping always looks.”
“Ah, here it is!” she says. She hands it to him. “I would know your wrapping anywhere,” she says. “Better job, Dad. I can actually tell there’s birthday paper under all the tape.”
Usually a husband, like June’s, will advise the use of prepaid mailing boxes. June never gives up her fight with the tape dispenser. Mary’s mother finally uses the bows and ribbons. James now wraps everything with the comic pages. As his daughter told him, “Everybody will read the cartoons and never notice all the plastic wrap.”
Shirley Ramsey, a retired professor of journalism, lives in Norman.