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I adore the Christmas season. In the middle of shortest days of the year, twinkling lights appear on neighbor’s houses, trees hang with decorations, and gaily wrapped boxes hide the presents inside. That last one challenges me a little as I recently mentioned on social media:
The good news is my friends raced to assuage my concerns and give me comfort. Who am I kidding? They made fun of me, of course. Such as this terrific cartoon by the ever-talented Penny Blakenship:
This led to a vastly entertaining—well, to me—conversation about things I remember from my childhood about Christmas wrapping:
- To the best of my memory, we had one bag of bows for years. When we opened presents on Christmas mornings, we were to carefully remove the bow from the packages and return it to the bag for re-use the next year.
- Boxes were recycled year after year as well leaving me with a permanent memory of the mantra—Don’t trust the box. I think that started the year one of us kids unwrapped a box touting a really cool toy only to discover it actually contained socks.
- My great aunt, who was sort of my surrogate grandmother, would retrieve the unwrapped paper, smooth out the wrinkles, and fold it to save for the next year. She did the same thing with aluminum foil.
- We were only to cut as much wrapping paper as we needed which meant the rolls had weird sections in it we saved for smaller boxes.
- In a pinch, the Sunday comics section was perfectly acceptable for use as wrapping paper. Not having received an actual newspaper at the house in years, I don’t even know if such a thing exists today.
- And, finally, the thing I miss the most—We shopped at department stores that had gift wrapping departments. If you showed them your receipt, they would wrap the present for free. For someone untalented in that art, this was a huge deal. Of course, sometimes you stood in line for an hour for that free gift wrap.
Sadly, in this year of not leaving the house, all presents are arriving by UPS, Fed Ex, and the postal service. I’m having to wrap my own presents. It’s not pretty.
On the bright side, a recent study (see link below) found people tend to appreciate a gift more when it is poorly wrapped. Something about lowered expectations. My revenge. Based on the mess of boxes under my tree, I’m going to really please some recipients Friday.
Books I’m Reading
Two young girls—best friends—go missing in a small town where, a year earlier, another child was abducted and murdered. The stories of the frantic families and the law enforcement search are told from multiple points-of-view, including that of one of the two young girls, a seven-year-old who has been mute for several years. By seeing the story from so many angles, the reader knows more than any character, but many of the characters’ perceptions are skewed by their own lack of knowledge. As revelations are made one-by-one, the young girl’s Weight of Silence is eased.
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Poorly Wrapped Presents Are Better Received—Yes, someone actually studied this. Because poorly wrapped presents lower expectations of the recipients, they tend to be pleasantly surprised by the gift and report higher satisfaction. It’s my revenge on all of you people who perfectly wrap presents.
Etsy Has Done Well This Pandemic Year—This weird year has pounded many businesses, but some have turned out to be winners. With people staying home and working on crafts, Etsy has shown huge growth. Go artists and crafty-people!
Southern Bookseller Review—For those of you who like Southern literature, a source of reviews and suggestions.
Yes, Mystery Readers, There Is A Santa Claus—Famed mystery writer’s G.K. Chesterton’s eighty-five year old “Santa Claus and Science” analyzed.
Retail Improved, But Not For Bookstores—Overall retail sales in the U.S. grew 7.8%, but bookstore sales fell 28.8%. Challenging economic times tend to do the most damage to weak industries and the traditional publishing and retailing approach to books is one of those. The sell of books continues to be quite strong, just not through traditional brick-and-mortar stores. I really hope bookstores figure it out, because I love browsing through a good store.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
Christmas isn’t just for kids! Roscoe enjoys the pile of presents under the tree and wonders which ones are his. My ugly-wrapped ones are hidden in the back.