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I don't remember the exact time or place when I wrapped my first present. However, I do know that I have always known how to tear into one. Growing up, our Christmas gift exchanges always started off pretty and organized but quickly ended with a designated person using a large trash bag to collect the wadded up, torn fragments of gift wrap, bows and ribbon. While it takes a lot of time and patience to wrap a beautiful gift, it is clear that it takes mere seconds to undo that beauty.

Well, that is unless you were my grandmother. She had this uncanny and almost magical way of un-wrapping her gifts without tearing the gift wrap. It took her a little longer, of course, but she always won the battle. She would take her arthritic fingers and ever so carefully and gently slide her fingernails between the tape and the paper, freeing the gift without as much as a scratch to the paper or ribbon. She then neatly folded the rescued paper and placed it and the used bows beside her on the floor next to her chair. We knew, even as children, not to dare touch this stack. They were as much of a gift to her as the actual gift. When she gathered her things to leave, she collected the used gift wrap and tucked it neatly under her arm. As we watched her leave through the front door, we always knew that the gift wrap would make an encore appearance next year on all of our gifts. The funny thing is that you could hardly tell the difference unless you looked very closely. Then you would see that the fold marks did not quite line up exactly.

Over the years, I must have learned at least part of her technique of wrapping and unwrapping gifts. As a small child, I would sometimes sneak and unwrap my Christmas presents prior to their official offering. I would then wrap them back up and return them to their original place under the tree. When they were given to me, you have never seen such an act of delight and surprise. I deserved an Oscar for my performance. I thought I was never caught in this unwrapping caper until my mother informed me one day that she knew what I was doing. Shocked and with a red face, I asked her to tell me how. She said that the presents were always better wrapped after I opened them than when she had wrapped them the first time. I guess all that unwrapping and rewrapping gave me a lot of practice and made me somewhat of a gift wrapping expert. At least my grandmother always thought I was!

With the holidays and gift giving season upon us, we have before us an opportunity to give some beautiful gifts, whether they be enclosed in fabulously decorated boxes or simply given from the heart in the form of a kind word to someone in need or a helping hand for a person or family who's less fortunate. It doesn't matter the form. Just be sure to go out and create something beautiful this holiday season for you, for your loved ones and for your community.