by Julianna Squicciarini
Our family has this saying: “Never trust the packaging!” What we mean, when we shout it to the person unwrapping a gift, is that even though the box may say J. Jill or Banana Republic, you’re safer believing it was a $4.00 find at Goodwill, rather than an ultra-expensive pair of BR pants or a pricy J. Jill skirt. That way, you won’t be disappointed when you pull out the scarf from Marshall’s or the earrings from Dillard’s.
Personally, I think it all started with the infamous Lord & Taylor box that was passed around our extended family, a new person being the recipient every occasion (Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.).
But speaking of packaging…want to hear something kind of funny? Our dad has always had this “thing” when it comes to wrapping. Sometimes he’ll buy gifts at the mall or something, and have the clerk wrap them for him. Works like a charm, and the gift always looks just so. But sometimes…he’ll do something crazy. A particular memory of mine is the coat. My dad bought my mom a big, black, down coat for Christmas one year. It was durable, from Eddie Bauer. He also went out on a limb and got her a pair of shoes. The shoes were not so memorable. I don’t even recall the shape or color. They could have been clogs, they could have been heels. Doesn’t matter, and obviously not important. Here’s where it gets great: are you listening? He took the shoes out of their shoebox and wrapped them in the big box in which the coat had originally come. Not that you would know that – it was just a big box. THEN, he took the coat, stuck it in a plastic shopping bag, and vacuum-packed it, until it fit into the shoebox. <gasp of amazement> This was my first experience with vacuum-packing, and I was enthralled. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. The coat shrunk down to nothingness and fit into the shoebox. <wow> So on Christmas morning, my mom opened this big box, only to find a whole bunch of tissue paper and a pair of shoes. I think she may have been slightly confused as to why my dad chose such a huge box, but she was happy with the shoes, so it didn’t matter. I could tell she suspected some sort of trick when she picked up the shoebox. It was a lot heavier than a shoebox should be, and plus, she had just opened a pair of shoes. So what could it be? She tore off the wrapping paper, and the top of the box came flying off, the plastic bag inflating with air and the coat spilling out onto her lap. Talk about presentation. We were all cheering with glee. It was absolutely amazing. And my mom was very, very happy.
My dad did something similar a few years later. My mom wanted a new umbrella, because hers was broken. My dad had gotten her a beautiful new watch…AND a new umbrella. My father is generosity personified. Anyway, what he did this time was wrap the new umbrella in some nondescript box or bag and hide it around the back of the tree. Then, he took the new watch and attached it in some ingenious way to the inside of the *OLD* umbrella. It closed just fine, and we wrapped it up and stuck it under the tree. On Christmas morning, my mom pulled her present out of the bag, only to find that it was her old umbrella! She looked confused and disappointed, and my dad reassured her by saying something about having fixed it, and that she should try opening it. She did, and there was her beautiful new watch, suspended from the umbrella aparatus. It was very cool.
The acorn does not fall far from the tree, apparently, because the rest of us have had some fun wrapping our packages, too. One year, Christine and I were giving a lot of joint gifts – like a sweatshirt from both of us to our dad. And the same for our brother. We vacuum-packed them each into cereal boxes. Imagine the look on our dad’s face when he tore off the wrapping paper and found our Optimum Fiber whatever-we-used-to-eat cereal box staring back at him! Epic.
Or how about the time Morgan filled a bag with operatic odds-and-ends, like a free CD and useless brochures and gave it to me for Christmas. I pulled the CD out, thought it looked cool – but cheap – and started to say thank you. It was only then that she chose to tell me that the two Turandot tickets she had bought me were subtly taped to the inside of the bag. Nice.
So, to sum things up – get out of your box! 😉