Katie Simons ’22
I’ve always cried over the Sun setting at 4:30 in the evening and dug my head further and further under the covers as the temperatures outside dropped. The mundane darkness of our cold Connecticut winters has always induced an immense feeling of dread for me. But throughout the dreary days of the onset of winter, I’ve found solace sitting on the carpet of my basement floor wrapping Christmas gifts.
While seemingly silly, gift wrapping has provided me with an outlet to escape into my basement, find peace during the chaotic holiday season and tap into a semi-creative art form.
When I was 7, I found myself not wanting to play outside in the winter snow (winter jackets felt too suffocating), but instead, wanting to retreat with my American Girl dolls to my basement. As I brushed Saige’s hair or picked out McKenna’s outfit, I would watch my dad wrap Christmas presents for my mom.
Now, Tim Simons is many things, but a talented gift wrapper is not one of them, so at an early age, my dad enlisted me to help him wrap presents. My jobs started as cutting the paper or holding out tape for him, but by the fifth grade it evolved into my dad handing the job of gift wrapping entirely off to me.
As I cut sparkly wrapping paper and tied bows around boxes, I found that it wasn’t necessarily the act of wrapping alone that I enjoyed, but the environment it provided me. My basement has two features that set it apart from the rest of my house — there are no windows and I get to control the temperature. As soon as I descended the stairs into my basement, I could ignore the harsh winter conditions and, for an hour, forget about the season I so greatly detested.
More so, in my basement, I could find moments of peace in the all-consuming holiday season. While an unpopular opinion, Christmas time is not my favorite part of the year. Hearing the same Christmas songs over and over again, the ubiquitous smell of pine cones and the general intensity of the holiday season has always felt too overwhelming.
So when I want to escape my mom’s constant streaming of the Michael Bublé “Christmas” album or the neverending holiday commercials, I simply ask my family if there was anything that needed to be wrapped, and the answer was almost always yes.
While it may seem silly to need the excuse of gift wrapping to go into my basement, wrapping presents lets me feel productive while engaging in something I enjoy. Like most, I’ve always struggled with dividing my personal life and my academic life. I can’t help but feel every uncompleted educational task nag at me when I try to enjoy free time. However, when I wrap gifts, I’m able to feel a sense of accomplishment in an activity, while still doing something that doesn’t require much mental energy.
Not only does wrapping not require much intense thought, but it also lets me do something creative without pushing me outside of my comfort zone. My creative outlet is close to zero, with the graphics I do for Inklings being my most tangible opportunity for expression. When I wrap gifts I’m able to choose the wrapping paper I think best suits the person and experiment with new ways to wrap unusual shapes. While they may not be Picasso-level works of art, they still give me the opportunity to be stimulated artistically.
So while I can’t extend the length of a winter day or make Christmas less chaotic, with a little tape and a lot of sparkly red wrapping paper, winter feels a lot more warmer.