Packing away the Christmas things this year seems kind of different - we probably won't be living in this house next Christmas, so I'm trying to do a bit of sorting as I go. The first task on my ever lengthening To Do list was the wrapping paper.
I should point out right now that I am an adult wannabe. I drool over colour coordinated displays of towels, folded in neat piles with all the edges facing the same way, and wonder why my airing cupboard doesn't look like that. I indulge my domestic goddess fantasies by flicking through cookbooks bursting with supposedly simple but delicious and nutritious meals that I know I will never sustain the concentration to make. I have great intentions, but not quite so great at the sustained effort part. I wish I was one of those tidy and organised souls that has the exact right size box for rolls of paper, maybe even compartments for birthdays and Christmas, a bit for ribbons and bows... you know, all sorted and easy. But I'm not. Not just not tidy and not organised, also not sorted and not easy. Which may explain why I buy a few rolls of wrapping paper every year - after Christmas, reduced - and why our wrapping paper is in a suitcase. Scrappy rolls of paper with ripped and dog eared edges surrounded by squashed metallic bows, all wound around (and around) in a tangle of plastic-y curling ribbon. Along with some folded gift bags - reduce reuse recycle and all that - Mr Manley's mum usually presents the kids with an extremely fancy gift bag of presents, so we save the bags for the following year. And also in the suitcase, two or three almost empty rolls of sticky tape and a blunt pair of scissors.
So yesterday, I emptied the suitcase, and uncovered thirteen rolls of paper. Thirteen. And I realised that although I buy three or four rolls every year, I use less than that, so it's been building up. I think the one that provided the necessary shock to the system was an unopened roll from Woolworths. How long ago did they close exactly? I just checked - I would have bought them right after Christmas 2008. Six years ago. Oh dear.
Anyway, I binned a load of squashed bows and have reorganised the wrapping paper and bows and everything, although it has gone back in the suitcase. Mr Manley said it was easier to get into and out of the loft than a box, but I pressed a couple of cardboard delivery boxes into service inside it, so hopefully the remaining un-squashed bows will survive to next Christmas. And I haven't bought any wrapping paper. At all. Even though it's reduced. Everywhere. I've resisted the temptation - quite proud of that actually.
I think the origin of my wrapping paper fetish (and probably the whole domestic goddess / wannabe grown up thing in fact) was the crappy first sixteen years or so of my life - one christmas in particular has stayed with me and I've strived ever since for the chance to experience the opposite. A twinkling tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped and ribboned gifts, hands cupped around mugs of creamy hot chocolate with a handful of marshmallows melting on top, smiles and kisses, giggles and wishes. Yep, I want a perfect christmas. Never going to happen of course, someone is bound to eat too many chocolate coins and end up feeling very sick as well as very sorry for themselves (Petal), or start a silly argument over whether we should watch Elf on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (Noah), or refuse point blank to get out of bed until they get a cuppa (me). And I know that, deep inside, but apparently this seems to be yet another example of being logically and intellectually certain of something but unable to apply that knowledge.
It might be wishful thinking as much as anything else, but perhaps I'm one tiny step closer to that dream version of me, Lucas the grown up. Not because we had a perfect christmas - we didn't - but because I didn't expect to, and that lessening of pressure, letting myself off the hook, made all the difference.
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