One of my favorite things.
Perhaps it all began when my brother came home from college and I was in 6th grade. After he'd been Christmas shopping, he'd surreptitiously get my attention. Whispering, top secret style, "Psst. Come here."
And I, clueless, hollering back, "What?"
He, afraid I was about to get us all killed on this mission, would give me the look to knock out the loudness and give me the gesture, GI Joe style, to follow him.
We'd go into his closed bedroom, and there would be a mountain of bags. I just stared. wow. When did he do all that shopping? Then I looked at him, wide-eyed. He looked me square in the eyes. His crystal blue eyes challenged: Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it. Then his words asked, "Can you wrap these?"
Accepting the seriousness of the matter, I looked him square in the eye and said, "Yes" but stopped before sir. He showed me who got what present, and I started to go get all that was needed for this mission.
But he stopped me, "Where are you going?"
"To get supplies."
"You wait here."
I waited. And looked over the presents. He was actually a really thoughtful giver. I remember being so impressed with his gifting skills--and with his awareness that his gift-wrapping skills were lacking. On some level he knew that the presentation of a gift was important too.
He sneaked back into the room a supply or two at a time. I started with paper; and when I was ready, asked for tape. "Oh yeah," was his reply, and he'd sneak back out. The same thing would happen with ribbon. And gift tags.
I don't remember much other talking during this mission. I didn't comment on how perfect those gloves were for Mom, or how our sister would love this tape of her favorite band. I just did my job. And when I was done, before I left the room, he'd look down at me, square in the eyes again and ceremoniously say, "Thanks." He opened the door for me to be dismissed, and I held my head high as I walked back to the puzzle I'd been working on.
That was the first of about a decade of Christmases. And the same thing would happen, year after year. And maybe because it mattered enough to my big brother that his family didn't get their Christmas present wadded into a comic book plastic bag, it really mattered to me.
And it's one of my favorite things: wrapping carefully chosen presents for the ones I love.