Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Reflections: WRAPPERS vs. "Wrappers"

I seem to have taken a week off from blogging. It was, actually, an accident. I thought I'd start blogging again the Monday after Christmas but since I was on vacation from work for a week, I decided I'd take a vacation from my general life.

It turned out to be a very good vacation indeed. It was rejuvenating, refreshing and downright lovely. I spent the week with my parents and got to see old friends as well as spend quality time with my siblings, nieces and nephews. It's been a while since I had a week off work to spend with family so it was much appreciated.

The nice thing about vacations is that you don't HAVE to do anything. This time around, there was Christmas and for me, that's sort of a necessity but aside from that, there was no firm plan. I stayed up late, slept in late and generally just was a wee bit lazy. In short, it was the way I think time off is intended to be spent.

Christmas turned out to be fun. There were, of course, a few small hiccups as there is at any family gathering. The largest, um, hiccup turned out to be my older brother. Now, I love my brother dearly. Until I was four, it was just the two of us and we're less than two years apart. This meant whether we liked it or not, we played together as children. We were always very different but most of the time that's never mattered. It's actually been quite a good thing.

However, one of the biggest differences my brother and I have is the way we view the world. I'm a worrier. I like to be constantly on time. I believe that if someone has taken the trouble to invite me somewhere, I should a) show up and b) be on time. My older brother is not such a worrier. He's very casual. He shows up when he's ready. He's of the viewpoint that if he's been invited somewhere, people want him there so it doesn't really matter if he's on time or not.

This does not make him a bad person. It just makes him different to me. My way is not necessarily right. Neither is his.

It's just...frustrating. Take, for example, Christmas Eve. Normally, my parents and I spend the day finishing up shopping and wrapping and we have very little time to spend together. This year, we all planned to be shopped and wrapped by the evening so we could have a nice supper together and watch a holiday movie to celebrate the fact that it was Christmas Eve.

Well, we had the supper. Then we sat down to watch "Serendipity". Then my older brother showed up. He didn't seem to notice we were watching a movie or relaxing. Instead, he started to wrap gifts. This made sense because the gifts were for his stepson and wife who were currently at home and he didn't want them to see their gifts. He showed up at 9 p.m.

Then he began to wrap his first gift- a very, very large box containing one of those gaming chairs for his stepson. Now, I should take this time to explain that both my older brother and my dad are WRAPPERS rather than "wrappers". A "wrapper" is someone like me who tries to wrap gifts neatly but doesn't get them perfectly wrapped, instead using a lot of tape to make it look even. The WRAPPERS are people who measure a package perfectly, measure out their wrapping paper, sometimes with a tape measure. They then cut the paper perfectly straight and, when they begin to wrap, crease their paper in a perfectly straight line at the folds and, when they tape, tape so precisely that it's almost invisible. Also, almost impossible to open.

Thus, to me, a "wrapper", the gaming chair would probably have taken ten minutes to wrap, tops. To my brother, a WRAPPER, it took...three hours.

Do you think I'm joking? I assure you, I'm not. By midnight, my dad, mother and I were agape that he was just finishing up this first package. We began to tease him. He took offense. The teasing was a desperate attempt to laugh at a bad situation because during the course of his wrapping, he'd talked over our movie and was banging about rather a lot on the dining room table which sits outside my parent's bedroom door. This meant even if my parents had gone to bed, the clomping, tearing and tape dispensing probably wouldn't have helped them get to sleep.

In the end, my brother finished his wrapping at 1 a.m. My mother and I stayed up with him to keep him company. The stuffing of his wife's stocking took another 30 minutes. By the time he left, my mother and I had resorted to teasing him. He was a little annoyed with us because he simply didn't understand that "wrappers" find WRAPPERS to be...odd.

We ended up laughing about it. What else can you do? He didn't mean to be frustrating. He didn't mean to be rude. He was simply doing what he needed to do to get his wrapping done. It's the way he is and for better, or for worse, I have to love him for it.

Of course, it didn't quite end there. Christmas Day arrived and my mum and I had planned a buffet style "tea" for Christmas night consisting of cold meats, cheeses, veggies, dips, salads...all the sort of stuff people can pick at and enjoy without being too formal. It took a lot of work. Due to the fact that I'm slightly food obsessed, I concentrated on making it look pretty as well as tasting nice. Our tea was to be ready by 6 p.m. My younger sister and her family and my younger brother and his family arrived earlier in the afternoon so gifts could be exchanged before we all ate and the children had time to play a little.

My older brother didn't tell us when he was going to arrive. I texted him. His wife called back and I told her tea would be a six. Then later, when it got closer to tea time, he still hadn't arrived. His wife called my mum and again, we said tea was at six. I started to get frustrated.

He arrived at 6:15 p.m. We ate. It turned out ok. I need to relax a little and be a little less focused on time. I know this. It's just that after being up until 2 a.m. the night before, I couldn't help but be slightly frustrated with my brother.

Still, it all turned out ok. Of course, I could tell you about how long it took him to get to passing out his gifts and having his family open theirs but I think I might have already vented a little too much already. In the end, he gave us lovely gifts, was a lot of fun and was quite helpful by taking out the rubbish.

He turned out to be just a small hiccup in an otherwise lovely celebration. We all just groan at him because he's been late for things ever since he was a child. It's just the way things are. I'm sure my slight anal retentiveness drives him as insane as his lateness drives me. Usually, we end up having a beer and making fun of each other. I like things that way.

Christmas is passed now. I'm sad about that. I still have my tree up and I still love the glow it gives but it's on its last days for the year and I'll have to take it down soon. The gifts are opened, the food is eaten and the New Year is upon us. I'm back to work tomorrow and my vacation will soon be drawing to a close. I didn't get to do everything I planned but that's always the way, isn't it?

I'll just have to take another vacation to make up for it!

Happy Monday (and Happy New Year!).

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