By nature, I am not a detail-oriented person. An activity with multiple steps no matter how exciting at first becomes a laborious chore somewhere around step number three. I wasn't born with the patience for particulars or lengthy, drawn-out instructions. I am interested in the finished product and get me there quickly, please. I don't bake cookies because the painstaking process of scooping and dropping the cookies one by one onto the cookie sheet is enough to put me over the edge. I don't put my photographs into cute scrapbooks because I don't possess the temperament to cut and snip and glue and paste a border, caption and cutesy sticker around one solitary picture before doing the exact same thing with another photo (and so on) until I have my 82 photos placed in a scrapbook. I don't concoct elaborate decorating schemes for birthday parties. When I sew, I can't bring myself to follow a pattern. I most definitely don't practice the fine art of needlepoint. There is one activity, however, where I enjoy putzing and lollygagging over details that need not be detailed. It comes around once a year with the holiday season and involves the elaborate wrapping of gifts. Surprised? I am, sort of, and I'm the one doing the wrapping. Packaging a package at the most basic level involves paper and tape. For birthdays, I've been known to use newspaper and brown masking tape. Nothing fancy about that. Get the thing covered and you are good to go. The paper's just going to be ripped to pieces anyway, right? This is my attitude 11 months of the year. Until the Christmas season hits and I find myself enraptured by wrapping. I employ all sorts of extracurricular materials and techniques to my boxed masterpieces. I cut the patterned paper to precisely the right dimensions. The glue gun is plugged in and set to the "on" position. I utilize ribbons, ornaments, tinsel, garlands, candy canes, silk florals and some striking fluffy things to adorn the tops of my packages. It's all in the name of Christmas glory. No two presents are the same; each is its own thing of beauty. Completed by me, the gal who can't measure the sugar for cookies or get her kids' photos into an album. Life is one sarcastic statement after another, isn't it? After wrapping, my beautificent packages are arranged in an arrangement created by none other than yours truly. I position each one so the bow or adornment or fluffy thingy shows to its utmost. The base of my tree becomes a statement of Christmas perfection. I stand back and let out a satisfied sigh.Then the clock strikes three, and we all know what that signifies. School's out and soon they will be home. Within ten seconds of entering the house, they hone in on the tree and its newest adornments. Even if I have added only one new package, they will spot it quicker than you can say, "Rudolph." That is when my wrapping paper of emotion gets all scrunched in a bunch. My boys are not content with merely giving their rapt attention to my wrapping. Seeing new packages under the tree leads to touching under the tree and touching under the tree leads to moving my artwork hither and yon. They count the packages. They group them by color. By size. By recipient. They build forts with my packages (which are actually their packages, but not until Christmas, really). At their hands, my artwork ends up lying embellished-side down, undignified, embarrassed and - in the worst scenario disfigured and de-bowed. I think about scolding them and telling them to restore the sanctity of the arrangement I toiled so hard on; then I remember they are little boys and it is Christmas. It is a miraculous time of year a time when we remember a regular baby who grew into a not-so-regular man who gave us the greatest gift of all. If one had to equate him with a wrapped package, he'd probably be closer to newspaper and masking tape than a fancy and ornate affair. His greatest gift to all of us was when he left us, embellished-side down, undignified, and be-bowed. I am not a detail-oriented person. That's okay. If I can learn to stand back and focus on the bigger picture, the details will take care of themselves. As I lift my carefully wrapped beauties and place them back under the tree, I try to remember this.
Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication." She's collecting fans on Facebook. Please check it out. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit her website at marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.