Some of us, over the course of our adult lives,
come to a quiet, disheartening conclusion about our relationship
with simple tools.
I can barely use a can opener. Certainly not a Phillips
screwdriver. Keep me away from socket wrenches or somebody loses an
eye. Christmas terrifies me because of bikes and dollhouses. I once
put together a Barbie mansion with such an astonishing lack of
skill I got a foreclosure letter. Don't even get me started on the
Kraft Vintage Kitchen. The thing comes with a fridge, a microwave
and a cordless phone. It might as well be a real
Long ago I made a pact only to buy toys already assembled.
Dinosaur Hot Wheels with a working volcano jump? Not happening.
Barbies? They are God's gift to overthumbed dads. I bought my
daughter enough Barbies to repopulate the earth.
All I had to do was wrap them.
That's the next problem.
Note to Mattel: the trapezoidal assemblage you've packaged
your dolls in is unwrappable. Please use a rectangle or a cube.
Please don't use curved edges and whatever you do, don't wang the
side off a perfectly usable square into some kind of sloped
edifice. That's just mean.
I know why you do it. It's to protect the environment. You
want to protect the environment? Make the box a shape a man can
wrap. It takes me 17 rolls of paper to get one of these things
sealed. You know how they say we lose an acre of trees every minute
to deforestation? Around Christmas, that's all me.
I tried shrink-wrapping our presents, but I set one on
fire and the wife made me quit. My only hope was the last resort
wrap, the Tootsie Roll twist, where I just curl a sheet of paper
around the poor doll and twist like I'm losing tug-of-war, then
tape the ends liberally. By liberally, I mean
And all my presents end up like this, little table-top
piñatas with my kids pounding them, hitting them, and attacking
them with knives to get to the good stuff inside-which is never
what they wanted.
One year I got my son a set of LEGO race cars. When he
finally got the wrapping paper off, he'd torn one corner and sliced
through the plastic. He said, "Really? I'm 11." My daughter kissed
me on the cheek, patted me on the head, and said, "Nice
I finally tried planning ahead. I had a nice flat gift. I
laid the paper out on the table, got a yardstick, measured,
flattened, pleated, folded, taped, folded again, taped again, and
finally, when I was all done, I had a beautiful, perfectly wrapped
present. I turned to look for a bow on the counter and saw the
actual toy by the coffee machine. I picked up the gorgeous gift I'd
just spent an hour working on and it fell limp across my hand. I'd
just wrapped nothing.
I put it under the tree anyway.
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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