When I was growing up my father took gift-wrapping very seriously. He used rulers to smooth out wrinkles, get the crispest folds, and the straightest cuts. It was understood that Effort should be put into wrapping presents. It’s sort of funny because he wasn’t really what I would call uptight, that I can remember. But when it came to certain tasks anything less than perfect was not good enough.
I’ve carried that attitude into adulthood. I’ve never really been a fan of the gift bag, somehow it seemed like a cop out. The prettiest presents, to my eye, have always been wrapped in beautiful paper with co-ordinating ribbon. It shows that you’ve put effort into the gift, that the person you’re gifting is important, that you are careful and thoughtful.
But lately I’ve given up my present perfection, very grudgingly. I’ve filled enough garbage bags full of discarded wrapping paper to know that as lovely as those gifts are, it’s not exactly the most environmentally conscious choice to cover your presents with trimming that will end up in the trash immediately. And so, starting with this past Christmas, I’ve pledged to not buy any more wrapping paper. I am saving reusable gift bags, and boxes, and tissue paper. Really, anything that’s still in good shape and could be used to cover a present is going into a big bin under Hannah’s bed.
It’s been hard for me, giving gifts that are less than perfect. I’m working hard to overcome my pre-conditioning, that voice that says that less than the best is not good enough. That I will be looked down on because the tissue paper is a little wrinkly and that gift bag has been around the block a few times before. That somehow my efforts to reduce waste will only leave me looking cheap and tacky and thoughtless.
But I am soldiering on. Because I know that while recycling is good, reducing and reusing are better. The best choice is to consume less, and so in this small way I’m trying. And I’m working to hold my head high as I hand over my wrinkly presents. Hopefully soon I will overcome my childhood conditioning, and feel secure in the knowledge that every little bit helps. Right now, this is my little bit.