Wrapping Christmas gifts is a nightmare

Burt's Eye View

Wrapping presents is as easy as folding fitted sheets — which is to say impossible to make pretty.

But as long as you don’t mind a few lumps, clumps and wrinkles, I’m your man for either job. I’ve noticed that gifts generally don’t fare as well as sheets when wadded into a ball and jammed into the closet, but other than that, wrapping and folding are roughly the same disaster.

I know it’s early to be suffering gift-wrapped nightmares. The nervous tremors began when I glanced at the calendar to discover that this Friday is Black Friday. That’s the day the green flag officially drops on Christmas shopping mayhem.

Actually, stores began stocking Christmas stuff weeks ago but I’m a traditionalist who prefers to muddle through one holiday at a time.

The coming season ushers in bundles of joys. Gift wrapping isn’t one of them.

Once, I rated myself as exceptional at wrapping Christmas presents. My skills astounded me. I didn’t know many other 8-year-old boys who could wrangle Christmas gifts into shimmery paper and silken bows as expertly as I did.

Since then, I’ve gained some 50 years of experience and lost half of my skills. Now I wrestle with wrapping paper like a 4-year-old who’s just gobbled two big bowls of Cocoa Puffs while watching Saturday morning cartoons. You can tell I hacked through the gift wrap by the uneven, jagged edges. And the kindergarten safety scissors.

It’s best to give me a stack of newspapers from the recycling bin and couple rolls of tape — the big, 2-inch-wide stuff, not the dinky stuff for little jobs around the house — and I’ll wrap presents you can safely move across the country on cobbled roads in a truck with lousy shock absorbers. It may not look pretty but neither is it going to shatter if you drop it.

I’m just not good at gift wrap.

This time of year serves as a reminder of all the seasonal things I don’t do well. Like holiday-crowd shopping.

I didn’t try out for football in high school because I don’t like to get hit. Also, I can’t catch, kick, run or tackle.

Those are the exact same reasons why I hide from shopping centers until mid-January. I don’t like to get hit, and I can’t catch, kick or tackle. But my running and ducking skills have improved.

The season also forces me to root around for my misplaced social skills, dust them off and try to squeeze back into them because, you know, holiday parties.

I spent the first 18 or so years of my life dreaming of the day that I could leave the house anytime I wanted and stay out as late as I wanted. Now that no one can stop me from going out, I’ve found that I’d rather stay in. My party guests are a half dozen novels, a remote control, a mug of hot chocolate, cookies and an afghan.

If misguided friends drop by, they better not expect Christmas china and festive cloth napkins from me. I’m not good at the fancy fineries. It’s paper plates and use your sleeve.

Not really. I do retain one vestige of civility — my wife. She insists that I set the table with real plates, napkins and as close to a cheery smile as I can muster.

“Not now,” I say. “I have to wrap presents. Have you seen the duct tape?”

Season’s greetings, I suppose.

— Write the Grinch at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.