Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wrapping It All Up

"The difference between the ordinary and the superlative is the consistent attention to detail that you make.Your pleasure in doing so then becomes mine in receiving your thoughtful efforts." -Loving Annie

Greetings! Whether your holiday is Christmas (like mine), Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice- we all share this tradition: December is the month to wrap it up. Presents. Our possessions. Our lives.
Everyone has idiosyncrasies. One of mine is the practice of a certain style of wrapping presents. Attractive paper... coordinated wired ribbon puffed out in a bow... a beautiful tag... these signal how much the recipient is cared for without a word. Wrapped so, what is given is clearly not just a package given out of obligation. It is a present.
While wealth and talent are nice to have- they aren't required to express creativity and caring in presenting a gift.
The bird and pine cones here are festive icons of the season. This little decoration and the ribbon were bought half-price. The gift inside is practical and not at all expensive- but because it is so well dressed- the grand entrance of what is inside is highly anticipated. My husband reads his name on the tag- and sees there is nothing moderate about how much he is loved.

When presents under the tree are going to go every which way, similarities and contrasts in wrapping are useful tools in avoiding stress. Presents going to one side of the family might be wrapped mostly in green with silver ribbon- the other side easily identified for transport by red paper with gold bows. This "coding" stopped the embarrassment of leaving behind a present as we ran out the door on our Christmas rounds.

At home, our sons presents were easy to separate because each would be wrapped with different outdoor themes. Trevor's gifts were often those in images of the forest. Kenny's presents were snuggled beneath graphic representations related to stream life.
Yesterday, my friend Edda Gahm called. While on vacation in the Pacific Northwest with her sister Gloria Whitley and husband John, Edda was inspired to collect cranberry items for a gift basket our club- The Diamond Bar Republican Women- would be donating to the biennial LA County RWF Convention. Could I help?
It was a "No parking. Street sweeping Day." at her place. Eddap packed up her bags of goodies and wrapping and drove to where my place.

We spread out the bounty for the club basket on my dining table- much of it from the Cranberry Barrel, a favorite merchant she visited on Washington State's Cranberry Coast. As I arranged the abundance of coffee, tea, soaps and more -Edda regaled me with tales of the families there who lived off the land and sea. In the summer they fished...in the autumn they harvested cranberries from bogs held by their families for a hundred years.
The more she talked, the more she smiled, the younger she appeared.
Edda brought moss green tissue paper, which popped in the collection of goodies, highlighted the little band in the plaid container. Like a throw over a sofa, the cranberry themed tea towel draped over the back . Cream colored lace angels provided visual pop.
Edda pulled out a spool of gold ribbon- a traditional way to fasten a feminine collar to the basket dressed in iridescent cellophane.

Why was this so important to Edda? People. First, the ladies and the men who are associates of our club. They volunteer hours that deserve recognition by what is done on their behalf. Same for the ladies of the LA County under which the club is organized.
But especially, Edda wanted to show her appreciation for her long time friend Mary Lou Terranova. At the convention held earlier today, Mary Lou would be stepping down from the County Presidency. Displaying the treasure in this fabric "suitcase" was a way Edda showed her love and respect for all of Mary Lou's hard work. At the same time, helping her do this brought me joy, too.

The basket wrapped and safely in the trunk of the car, we moved on to another tradition of wrapping up the year. Sharing a bowl of homemade Turkey Soup made from the leftover carcass of the big bird.
Trisha, Edda, Sue and I spent much of the day earlier E-mailing back and forth our thoughts on the traditional after-the-holiday fare. Our conclusion: there is no such thing as bad turkey soup.

Edda and I chatted over Portmeirion soup cups filled with my rustic version. We wrapped our vast assortment of thoughts together with friendship. With joy about our adventure up to Sacramento the day before. About the craftsmanship in my husband's woodworking hobby. About the sad anniversary of her only daughter's death. Of my angst of my oldest son's coming divorce. We reminisced the bitter sweetness of life. We're okay with it. After all, chocolate is bittersweet. It is still GOOD.


'Loving Annie' is a lover of food, travel and all aspects of the good life. She is a blogosphere friend. Her blog reviews are a joy to read because they are fair, accurate and intelligent. Drop by for a taste of what she offers at http://www.truetraveltreasures.blogspot.com/
The gorgeous sheets of wrapping paper and the tag are from The Paper Source in Old Town Pasadena. On Colorado Blvd, next to Sur La Table. Or shop online at http://www.paper-source.com/
At this writing, both Michael's and Jo-Ann's Fabrics and Crafts have holiday decorations and wraps at after- Christmas price points. Stores throughout the area.
Travel info on the Cranberry Coast is found at http://www.experiencewa.com/scenic-byways/cranberry-coast.aspx

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lydia, I'm stunned. What a wonderful description of our little wrapping session. I love the "younger" description. Perhaps I need more trips to gather items for another basket. :) My coping mechanisms are a bit threadbare as we, Robyn and I, approach the second year of Cobi's absence. You nailed why this basket was so important to me. Mary Lou is a dear friend who served our group more than well and yes, it was important to me personally. Thanks for all the help. It was fun.
Edda

Anonymous said...

Lydia,

How lovely! Your best ever! Yes, you did nail it! When our club was asked to donate a basket for this event we knew Edda was THE one to do it! She wanted to do this and make it special in honoring Mary Lou as she was stepping down as president after two wonderful years in the LACFRW.
The nice thing is that the basket was won by a dear and sweet lady friend who happens to be an associate of the DBRWF and a member of the Puente Hills RWF, Anna Mary Pelle. Edda and I were thrilled that this beautiful basket, put together with such thought and love would go to a friend.
Your gift wrapping part was great and that box is certainly beautiful! I used to spend much time and thought in each gift but now I just wrap the stack of presents and am glad when it's done! I especially enjoy that Nordstrom's "wraps" for you with their beautiful silver boxes and bows! When you get home, they go under the tree just like that, right out of the bag!

We all have our mixed emotions about something sad going on within each of our families but we can all be thankful to God for our many blessings as the birthday of our Jesus approaches. Merry Christmas to all!
XOXO Trisha

Lydia said...

Thank you both. It is always a pleasure to write- but this was one of those posts that burst its way out. Not that it is that quick- these stories are like labor. It takes a while of pushing and shoving before "out" my baby pops.

Tricia- The Nordstrom boxes are great. Particularly if the recipient knows what is inside because they tried it on. They are life-savers when it hits deadline- somethings got-to give- and the wrapping isn't done yet. However, unless the gift is corporate- even that shiny silver box is elevated by simply tying on a dark green velvet ribbon into a bow.
If you are ever in the neighborhood of a Stats- you might want to drop in and peruse their phenominal selection. The price per roll is higher than the craft stores- however, when you look at price per foot- it more than works out.

Loving Annie said...

Beautifully wrapped presents are such a treat, Lydia !

The time, effort and thought that goes into making them special really shows :)

Thank you for the compliments and the link - it would be wonderful to share a meal together one day !

Lydia said...

Dear Loving Annie- That was such a perfect quote- thank you for allowing me to use it.
I would love to share a meal with you some day.