The gift of Duct Tape

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      So, I sat down tonight to do my last minute, been putting it off, it’s getting too close to Christmas, wrapping. Mostly, it was a few kids items. Hubby and I got few chances to shop this year for each other, so we went shopping together, and decided to just forgo wrapping gifts that we picked out ourselves. That left only one more thing- a gift for my 31 year old brother.

      Jason and I have always had an odd relationship.

      Never close, but never distant, either. When I was in high school, he was more than willing to beat the crap out of any guy who hurt my feelings, but he was also willing to hurt my feelings himself. A typical older brother.

      Now, in our family, we’ve always had a semi-unspoken tradition- wrapping the object in odd items, filling boxes with rocks, nesting tons of boxes, wrapping 12 boxes and making them pick the right one, etc.

      In the past few years, we haven’t done this.

      In fact, the last one I can recall is a gift box that should easily fit 4 sleeping bags (first thing that came to mind just now), but was light as a feather. Of course, this could be new pillows. Or a gift card wrapped insanely.

      This was a year where we each brought 1 gift for the same sex- a female gift, or a male gift. If you brought one, you got to pick one from the pile. This ensured that people only needed to buy 1 gift, and if we didn’t want to participate, it wouldn’t leave someone else out, either, and we had until Christmas morning to decide.

      So, back to the big box.

      This particular year, my husband was sick, and spent the entire day in bed or in the bathroom. We brought a boy gift and a girl gift, so when it was Nick’s turn to pick, I went for the big box.

      Yes, knowing our family tradition didn’t phase me in the least, I grabbed big, hoping for new pillows, or a gift card. Alas, how wrong I was.

      My brother spent his $20 gift limit on 1 thing- as much toilet paper as he could buy. I was stuck with $20 worth of toilet paper, and not the good stuff- the 1 ply, itchy, scratchy, tear through while wiping paper.

      That was several years ago. Now, I’m reviving the tradition.

      This year, we drew names rather than doing generalized gifts (it works better, because you can get something the person might actually want). By a stroke of luck (it helped that I drew the names myself, though no cheating was involved), I got my older brother’s name. From that moment, I had $20 to spend on him.

      The gift is actually somewhat mundane.

      I bought him 3 jars of peanuts ($.99 the day after Thanksgiving), a bag of plain M & M’s (again, $.99 the day after Thanksgiving), and lastly, a $15 Target gift card, which I earned for free at Judy’s Book. Initially, I was going to give him a different gift card that I had also earned, and just stick it in an envelope.

      But, I couldn’t do that to my favorite brother. So tonight, I looked around for what to do with the gift card, and spied the peanuts, perfect for adding weight to the gift, as I forgot to find rocks or bricks.

      Great, except if I was going to give him the other card, I was already $5 over budget (though, since it was earned online, it was free to me). So, I decided to change to the $15 Target card, and fill in with the jars of peanuts and the M & M’s.

      Then, I found a box with enough space to lay the jars side by side on the bottom, then I realized I needed to tape the bottom. I realized then and there that the regular tape would not hold it shut well enough, so I asked for the duct tape.

      As I started wrapping the bottom flaps together with the tape, I thought of an idea. I emptied the box, and taped the gift card to the very bottom flap, enough to secure and obscure it. Then I added the jars of peanuts, wrapping each in tissue.

      Then I added the M & M’s, and stuffed the top of the bag with tissue
      After that, I closed the box with duct tape. And kept going. I wrapped the box in layer upon layer of duct tape, each one going in a different direction.

      I finished off the first roll, and had to hunt down another roll to use. The box is entirely the gray silver color of duct tape, no box showing in any little space.

      I did this over and over again, recovering more space as I went. Lastly, I added the phrase, “No knives!”

      to the outside on all 6 sides of the box. I still need to decide if I plan to wrap it in regular paper on top of the duct tape.

      For now, there is a slightly rubbery feeling box under the tree, glowing dimly silver in the lights. It’s beautiful.

      And the look on my brother’s face Sunday evening will be well worth the 25 minutes it took to “wrap”.

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