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While anyone who’s read my blog for longer than five minutes knows that I wear a YOU’RE NUMBER ONE finger for Christmas, there’s one party of this happy-crappy, shooting glitter out of your ass holiday I loathe.

Wrapping presents.

A lifetime ago, I’d been all, “Someday” *shakes fists at sky* “SOMEDAY I will hire someone to wrap presents for me and they’ll be beautiful and angels will burst into my living room singing the Seventh Heaven theme song.” Then I shook my fist for even more dramatic effect, even though I was alone in the house.

Well.

We all know what’s happened throughout the past year, and most days I’m pleased to have toilet paper. Apparently the Universe not only laughed at my marriage, but at my long-held desire to have Christmas presents wrapped by someone who actually has thumbs and the patience for all those bows and shit.

See, the thing is, Pranksters, I have a complex (stop gasping at the computer, I know how shocking this is for you) about gift-wrapping. I can blame it on one person; one single individual, who ruined Christmas wrapping forever.

(And no, it’s not Pinterest, which is also responsible for making me feel like an ass for not taking beautiful pictures of gilded fish you can make in four easy steps with common household ingredients because I’M NOT MOTHERFUCKING CRAFTY, PINTEREST, SO SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY).

Many, many years ago, my brother was married to a woman who I hated, and not just because we shared the same name, although I’ll admit that I *did* get sick of people calling me to speak to her, mostly because she was a raging asshole and mostly because I was a teenager. Two mostly’s make a whole, right?

Anyway.

My brother married someone who took not only my name, MY name, but also any shreds of dignity I had about the presents I’d hastily bought at Walgreens on Christmas Eve (we all know my mother LOVED the “Happy Birthday Grandson” figurine I’d bought her!), then wrapped in a mere ten minutes with paper I’d taken from my parents. They weren’t pretty packages, and while I’m dead certain everyone enjoyed (read: threw away) the candy canes filled with assorted jellies (lies), I was pretty proud of myself for being all last minute and thoughtful and shit.

(“thoughtful” here meaning “fuck, it’s already Christmas. I should probably buy all the peeing dolls I can find at Walgreens – people love those things! Especially adults because PEEING BABIES = AWESOMELY THOUGHTFUL and not at ALL POINTLESS!!)

While my packages were often wrapped in plastic drug store bags, proudly displaying not only WHERE the presents came from, but also REUSING which is part of the recycling tree or food pyramid or something (I don’t know. I was always the one in the back of the class playing Bejeweled on my phone all thug-life style), she and my brother, who then lived across town, would waltz into my parents house on Christmas Day with bags of carefully wrapped presents.

They’d place them neatly under the tree, effectively ensuring that mine now appeared to have been wrapped in burlap sacks and smeared with dog poo. She’d go all the fuck out for that shit. I’m talking $15 A SHEET wrapping paper, bows that were folded in such a fashion that even Martha Stewart would’ve been envious of – before she stole the idea and then sold it for a zillion dollars at that craft store of hers. Each package had a neatly inscribed label, probably embossed or some shit, and she even managed to get the wrapping paper to line up at the back of the package so that it looked like one fluid piece. Along with the monogrammed tags imported from Paris or one of those third world countries where child labor laws go something like, “you have arms? YOU HAVE THE JOB!” she’d always add a little extra something. A trinket or doo-dad or whoodilly or whatever.

When it came time to open her carefully wrapped presents, she’d always manage to find a thoughtful – yet tasteful – gift for each of us, but I always hated destroying what must’ve taken her hours to do. I cannot imagine how much time she’d spent on each gift, but damn, despite our “differences” that girl could motherfucking wrap. It didn’t help that it seemed to cause her excruciating pain to watch people open her gifts, which I could totally understand.

Years later, I still think of her each time I go to wrap presents because even when I try HARD to make a present look purdy, it still winds up looking as though an infant had done it. My edges don’t match. Nothing is ever straight. My bows aren’t hand-crafted with tears from Unicorns and ribbons made of Pegasus hair, they’re usually straight from the bulk bag of bows – always mangled and misshapen – I’d found at an after-Christmas sale the year prior because I’m a cheap ass who balks at paying more than two bucks a roll for wrapping paper.

I’d been intensely proud of myself for getting my gift-buying done before Christmas Eve. I’d begun trying to pat myself on the back until I got distracted when I learned that you really can’t lick your elbow, and then the packages began to arrive. And when they did, I realized I hadn’t done myself any favors. 650 square feet = no one has any secrets.

Off to Dave’s I trotted to collect some of the wrapping materials I’d bought in years past, having every intention of getting them wrapped and under my ridiculous tree before, well, Christmas. It’s going to be a hard Christmas, of that I have no doubt, and I wanted to make sure the kids didn’t remember this as “the Christmas That Sucked Balls,” because while it’s going to be hard for me, I’d rather spare them the pain.

I’ve been eying the packages, wrapping paper, and tape (that my Prankster Jolie sent me as a gift, along with an ornament for my tree, which is just awesome. The ornament, not the tree. The tree was manufactured by Satan) every day, all, “IMMA DO THIS SHIT” until I get down to it and realize that no matter how pretty the paper, no matter how nice the bows, I still loathe wrapping presents.

I’ve set my sights a lot lower than the whole I WILL SOMEDAY HIRE SOMEONE TO WRAP FOR ME RATHER THAN BRIBING MY MOTHER TO DO IT because, well, that seems prudent. Plus, that’s a huge waste of money.

This year, I’m simply hoping my presents don’t appear to have been wrapped by a blind squirrel without thumbs.

But, because I know me, I’m not holding my breath.

————

What about you, Pranksters? What’s the one thing about the holidays that makes you crazy (besides everything)(and if you say Christmas music, I will cut you because I LOVE that shit)?

I’d been carefully asleep in my bed, sweating to my dreams like Richard Simmons had made me his personal bitch, defeating a gigantic Michelin man wearing a Bret Michaels wig who had a voice like the chick from The Nanny (Fran someone-or-other?), dreaming he was made of a delicious white frosting and enjoying every second of eating him alive when…

…tap, tap, tap.

Followed by…

…slap, slap, slap.

I cracked my eyes open a second to see what was going on when I realized my young daughter was playing the bongos on my ass cheeks. Just in time, too, since she was going for my eyes next. Apparently, it was time to wake the fuck up, Mama.

I’d spent the week prior on the couch, bemoaning a scad of diagnoses that ran like the who’s who in the gossip mags of bad viruses, or the amuse bouche menu at the infectious disease cafe, wondering if I’d instead been afflicted by some ancient Mayan voodoo curse, occasionally typing out blog posts in my head:

Day 1: The work of some cruel master is afoot. Perhaps I’ve done something so severe, so unforgivable, that I must now pay for my sins with my life. GOD, I hate it when the voice in my head sounds like a bad Twilight chapter. ALAS, something must be done before I die at the hands of the hands of these cruel masters.

Then:

Day B: There is definitely tomfoolery and some of those other descriptive and bad-sounding things going on. It’s probably the bubonic plague. I hope that people come to my funeral and don’t bring filler flowers. Those are bullshit.

Still later:

Day Too Many To Count: I don’t much care any longer if I sound like a particularity bad romance novel, so long as I don’t have to have passionate sex with a hunky, well-groomed grounds-keeper or some shit. My vagina, like the rest of me, is broken. Death, too good for me, would be welcomed with open arms. Too bad my cat would be the only witness and probably eat my face before anyone found me.

That was until Friday, when my daughter had made up her mind that she would be having our night together WHETHER I WAS DYING OR NOT. Someone had to allow her to eat Pringles and play with makeup, dammit. I knew that if I didn’t just say, “okay, cool,” to her demands, she’d FIND her way to my apartment and lord knows what she’d do to me when she got there.

So Saturday morning I awoke to her playing bongos on my ass cheeks.

When she realized I was awake, she squealed, “Hi MAMA! Let’s go play!” Because she, too, is sick, it came out all Thelma from The Simpsons, “Hi *hack, wheeze* Mama, *blurt, glurt* LET’S PLAY.”

“Mimi,” I asked, trying to squeeze out a few blessed more moments of sleep before I had to get up do her bidding, “Did you take up smoking?”

“Nah,” she giggled, then burst into a coughing fit.

“Good,” I croaked. “No smoking ’til you’re twelve.”

She looked at me all serious-like, eyes watering, before blurping a goo of mucous onto my pillow. She looked at it as I levitated out of the bed to get a towel, and laughed.

“At least it didn’t go on your head, Mama,” she giggled.

I looked at the child-sized thing of goo lying right where my head had been and nodded.

“Could always be worse,” I replied.

“Now go get some pants on.”

Scene: My Living Room, Saturday Afternoon

Me: (mumbles to self while setting up Christmas tree)

Alex: (perplexed) “Hey… Mama?”

Me: (pulling head from underneath spiky needles of doom, expecting the question to have something to do with pizza): “Yes, J?”

Alex: “So, I was thinking a lot about this.”

Me: (resting on my haunches and giving him my undivided attention, expecting a cunning con to splat from his adorable mouth) “Okay.”

Alex: “I don’t know if I’m right.”

Me: (now thoroughly entertained by his The Thinker pose) “Well, why don’t you ask? I’ll see if I know the answer.”

Alex: (is silent for a few moments)

Me: (silently awaiting his question and hoping it has nothing to do with building bombs or roller coasters in our bedroom)

Alex: “A fart is really like a burp coming out of your butt…. right?”

Me: (gapes for a second) “Um… I’d never really thought of it that way, but yes, J, you’re right. A fart IS a burp coming out of your butt.”

Alex: “Okay, that’s what I thought.”

Me: (stifling laughter at how seriously he’s taking this) “Really glad I could help you with this one.”

Alex: “And… can we order pizza?”

Me: “Nice try, kidlet.

 ————–

Yesterday, I wrote this for Band Back Together, the community weblog I run with a group of volunteers. It’s there that we share stories – YOUR stories – (and pair them with over 600 resources) with the rest of the world so that we can grow, learn, and thrive through our trials and tribulations. You never know who will be touched by the words you write, so I’m seriously asking you to share your stories. Can be old stories or new. Sad stories or happy.

Everyone has a story – it’s time to tell yours.

And? If you’re interested, we’re doing tons of excitable things behind the scenes – we have an auction going on AND a calendar this year. If you’d like to join our volunteer pool, we’d be honored to have you. Email volunteer@bandbacktogether.com and we’ll get this party started!

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