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The Gift of Laughter

January 17, 2013

I got in a snit this holiday season, a season I like to call stress-mas, which resulted in Peter and I playing a game of verbal volleyball over who was going to wrap the gifts. Every year, during the wee hours of stress-mas morning, rest assured one creature would still be stirring in the house and that creature would be me; dreary eyed, murmuring profane remarks. Swearing because I was awake at 3:00 a.m. still wrapping gifts. Therefore the time had come for me to remedy the resentment I harbored over inheriting this job, for I had enough on my plate as it was. I’ll admit part of the challenge was (still is) because I refuse to purchase wrapping paper. No, no thank you, no wrapping paper for me please. Instead I must make my own by recycling every scrap of craft paper, tissue paper, or cereal box. It’s for the environment don’t you know. The problem, considering what I do for a living, is that I can’t present a bland, stack of boxes wrapped in crinkled, unbleached, colorless paper. A gift needs personalization and illustrative adornment to elicit feelings of joy. In other words, I was digging a hole and then filling it by decorating each package individually. Regardless, my point was, that if only I had some help, surely I could avoid staying up until 3:00 a.m.

Peter’s response was that, long ago, he used to help until I apparently fired him from the job. What?! “Did not,” I said. “Did to,” he said. Why on earth would I do that I asked? Because, he explained, I’m a control freak over all things decorated related. “Am not,” I said. “Are too,” he said. I think you know where this is going. To prove him wrong that we could peacefully co-exist on a decorating challenge, I promised I would not to interfere if he agreed to help. He was game. With that, the ground rules were set; absolutely no art directing allowed.

So began a stubborn-ass wrapping contest when each retreated to our respective corners and set out to demonstrate our superiority on the subject. Such is married life. Armed with art supplies and recycled bits of everything, we tackled the task at hand. Over in my corner I was feeling relief that Peter had agreed to share the workload. In Peter’s corner, he was either hatching a brilliant secret plan that would guarantee I’d never, ever ask him to wrap again, or he was setting out to teach me a much-needed lesson about myself.

In no time at all Peter could be heard giggling, then laughing, then hysterically laughing to himself. He has the silliest, most infectious laugh on earth. The kind that makes you laugh hysterically in unison even when you have no idea what the heck you’re laughing at. In between the giggling fits I’d ask him what was so funny and he’d show me what he was doing. In my shock and horror I exclaimed, “OMG! NO Peter, you can’t do that!” He was lazily wrapping two separate gifts together in one package, not doubling up the tissue paper so that it wasn’t see-through, and just in case there was still an ounce of belief that Santa still existed (thankfully there isn’t) he made sure to burst that bubble too. Needless to say I broke the ‘no art directing’ rule more times then I’d like to admit. It didn’t matter though; he completely ignored me and carried on having a jolly ol’ time. All I could do was beg in earnest for him to at least make sure all the price tags were removed. Indignantly he would scorn, “of course I will – control freak!” “That’s not control,” I retorted, “it’s common sense – defiant one!”

When the time came for the kids to descend upon their piles of loot, Peter and I waited for judgement. One was bummed out that she saw what she was getting before she even opened it. Another saw absolutely no point in observing the details of wrapping (what wrapping!) for all he wanted was to see what was inside the box. Good point. All the girls thought my wrapping was pretty. Awh, now we were talking. While another pointed out that the price tags were still on many of the items. Take a guess who was responsible for that little oversight? I remembered firing Peter and why.

The verdict? In the time it took me to wrap one gift, Peter had finished ten. Ten! That certainly explains why I’m always up till the wee hours of the morning. On esthetic value and attention to detail, I scored the most points. For time management, efficiency, the fun factor, and the ability to not take life too seriously, Peter wins – hands down. My approach made wrapping work. His approach made wrapping fun.

Hell hath no furry like a husband scorned. He proved his point and I learned my lesson. It makes no matter if he was trying to discourage me from ever asking him to help again, or if he was trying to show me the error in my ways because it came down to this: it’s helpful to be reminded that there is no room for perfectionism or martyrdom in a home. I’ve acknowledged that by putting the expectation on myself to create a personalized illustration on every parcel was the slowest route to a deadline and the quickest short-cut to a breakdown. Imperfectly wrapping with one of my best friends, even if he was being a brat by pushing all my buttons, was so much more joyful then perfectly wrapping alone.

On a more somber note, amidst a season weighed down by some serious stuff going on within our vicinity, we all needed a good laugh. With loved ones bravely battling evil, nasty, cancerous diseases and various other degrees of yuck, heavy clouds of worry had been hovering overhead. What Peter’s actions further reminded me of is that when it comes to the matter of image vs. substance, substance wins every time. Image alone can be over-rated, fleeting, or torn apart in a matter of seconds, whereas substance remains the true authority on longevity and meaningfulness. The sustenance of laughter elicits a joy that heals the mind, body and spirit, making it the best gift of all.

In this new year, let us remember to laugh, love, live, whenever we can, while we can.© 2012, Dana Aubrey© 2012, Dana Aubrey© 2012, Dana Aubrey

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    January 19, 2013 12:59 pm

    Loved this, and love your whirlwind, incisive, insightful way with a good story 🙂

  2. January 21, 2013 10:43 am

    Thanks Nanc! Your compliment means that much more to me knowing what a fabulous story teller you yourself are. Love you much. xo

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