The Garden City Telegram
12/29/2012
SOUTHWEST LIFE

Family togetherness more important than any presents

Gift wrapping is an art form.

I am not artistic, but my son, Alek, took it to another level — or maybe lowered it several levels.

Because my wife worked Christmas Day, we celebrated that evening.

Of course Alek, and his sister, Claire, were anxious to open their gifts, having waited longer than they ever have.

Despite sitting around the house for several hours, Alek realized he hadn't wrapped my gift as we gathered around the tree to hand out gifts.

As he hurried out of the room, he asked him mom if there were any gift bags he could use.

Nope.

What he found was a bag from a past gift, stuffed it with scraps of wrapping paper and placed it under the tree.

It's the thought that counts, right — even if the thought is last minute.

I can't say that I blame Alek when it comes to avoiding wrapping gifts.

I'm no expert, and rely on my wife to do most of the wrapping.

I swear when I was a kid I could wrap a lot better than I do now, but maybe it just seems that way.

I never understood why people carefully unwrapped their presents to preserve the paper.

I still tear into the paper as quickly as I can to see what I got.

Claire made Alek work for his gift, filling a large box with newspaper with a gift card taped to the bottom of the box.

There also was some confusion over which gift belonged to whom.

Claire's boyfriend, Trevor, was the only one who used named tags on the packages, so that led to my wife shaking two presents to determine which was mine and which was Trevor's.

But once that was straightened out, we commenced to opening presents, leaving the room knee deep in boxes, paper and gift bags.

Even when your kids are past the Santa Claus years, it is still good to see the looks on their faces and hear them talk about what they've received.

Gifts are not the reason to celebrate the season, and this year our family already had received so much — the newspaper, a new home, new community — and it is nice to be able to share some time together as a family.

After the gifts, we gathered around the table and shared a meal, and what was even better was the time we spent together.

For a change, we were all eating together. We didn't have to ask who was going to be home for dinner and when. Or my favorite is when I ask Claire if she's going to be home for supper, and her decision is based on what we're eating.

This time everyone was glad to be home, and no one was in a hurry to leave the dinner table when they were finished.

There weren't any friends to rush off and see or some place Claire and Alek wanted to be.

They were home with Mom and Dad, and that was perfect for them.

That made a great Christmas, even when your gift comes in a recycled bag, stuffed with recycled wrapping paper.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.