Today, I had the gift of time to spend a few minutes wrapping gifts with Nora. Of all my children, she's the most likely to be a successful present wrapper. I've been waiting for a moment when the other two big kids were busy and the littler one was sleeping, and today, I got it.
We knelt together on the kitchen floor. I showed her how to measure the paper, tape the box, fold and crease the ends neatly, just the way my Gram and my mother taught me. By the time we got to the second gift, she was flying solo except for the cutting. I was so proud- she measured, she trimmed, she folded and creased like a pro. Her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth just like mine does when I'm concentrating. Her cheeks flushed pink as she chose just the right bow and tag for each gift. Her enjoyment was all over her face.
On the fifth package, Nora cut before she was ready, and the paper was a bit too short. We turned it both ways and couldn't quite make it fit. Dismayed, she bit her nails, wondering what I would say about the waste of paper.
I hate that she has reason to wonder if I'll be upset about something like that.
I've always loved wrapping gifts, partly because it rewards perfectionism. My sister and I used to do all of them for Gram at family birthdays and Christmas. That feels so long ago- those hours we shared in Gram's back bedroom, piles of boxes and tape and rolls of paper scattered around the room, giggling as we worked together, setting up "assembly lines," feeling important to be the guardians of Big Important Secrets until Christmas Day.
Sharing this time with my daughter today was more than just a sweet reminder of days past. It felt like the handing on of a shared knowledge from generation to generation. "It's worth doing it right," Gram used to tell me as she held the end closed for me to place the tape. "Measure twice, cut once."
It is worth doing things right, but people's feelings are always more important than perfect packages. Because of Gram, I know just how to line up the paper to camouflage a seam if I forget her advice and cut before I've measured carefully enough.
Now Nora knows, too. As we piled the packages under the tree, she smoothed out some bows and breathed, "They look almost wonderful."
Squeezing her with both arms, I told her they were my favorite packages ever...and I meant it.
Linking up with Micaela at California to Korea for Advent, Week 3.