…paper packages tied up with string

Many, many years ago, my late husband Ray found this nifty storage container at a store. It was a Rubbermaid product intended to hold a bunch of rolls of wrapping paper keeping them safe from getting mangled in a closet (which is what tended to happen to leftover rolls when we tried to put them away). It had a special compartment in the lid to hold ribbon and scissors and tape. It seemed like a no-brainer purchase.

When we got it home (this was just after a Christmas and we needed to start putting away all the decorations) we discovered it’s first flaw: it was designed to hold rolls that were 28-inches wide or less. Back when I was a kid, the two standard sizes of wrapping paper sold in all the stores was 24-inch and 28-inch, but even in 1993 or 94 (when we bought this), the most common sizes offered for sale were 28-inch and 30-inch. So a few of the rolls we had wouldn’t fit in the thing.

Which was less than ideal.

Ray simply shrugged and said we’d need to keep an eye out for the shorter rolls. And later that year he found some mail-order sale on 28-inch rolls and bought a bunch and we were set for the next couple years.

The other problems took a bit longer to recognize. The way it was designed, it had almost no flat surfaces, so you couldn’t stack anything on it. The lid was fully one-third of its length and snapped into place, so if you tried to store it on its side the lid would pop off and all the paper would get exposed. It’s widest point was where the lid snapped on, which meant even when stored upright, that was wasted space on each side. And again, you couldn’t pack it in tight, or the lid would pop off.

But, the rolls inside were indeed protected, and it was awfully easy to carry a complete wrapping kit around during the season.

After Ray died, the container became one of the things that made me think of Ray whenever I saw it, so I became even more inclined to ignore any shortcomings.

As time went on, it became more difficult to find 28-inch rolls of wrapping paper. Also, I’ve always had the bad habit of buying wrapping paper during the holiday season just because it’s cute—regardless of how many rolls of paper we may already have. This is a habit that Michael has, too. So the stockpile of rolls of gift wrap that could fit in the container kept growing.

Each year I would pull the container out, but would usually use mostly the rolls that wouldn’t fit in. I rationalized this by telling myself it I didn’t use up the other rolls, more of the leftover would get damaged in storage. I didn’t consciously realize that I was also avoiding using the rolls that did fit in the container because if I used them up, the container wouldn’t be full, any more.

So, three Christmases ago we found out that we would have to move sometime in the following year. So when it was time to pack away Christmas stuff, I set myself a goal of trying to identify a bunch of the Christmas stuff we shouldn’t keep, so there would be fewer things to pack up. The container seemed a good candidate.

This was very early in the purge-and-pack process, so I couldn’t just put the container in the “get rid of” pile without discussing it with Michael. It was while we were discussing it that I realized I had been avoiding using the wrap that would fit in the container on the circle-reasoning basis that I need to keep that paper to justify having held onto the container so long.

Michael made the additional suggestion that all the unused Christmas wrap should be donated, rather than trying to pack and move it. “We always wind up buying new stuff each year, anyway.”

And he was right. Our first Christmas at the new place, we bought new wrapping paper (trying to keep it to a reasonable number of rolls). Shortly after Christmas I found a canvas bag-type container that was advertised for storing wrapping paper, and could take rolls up to I think it’s 40-inches (which I have never bought, but you…). It stores much more easily. It’s a cheery red-and-green, so it’s easy to find in a dark closet.

A few days ago my husband wanted to start wrapping presents. I was still at the office when he got home and started on it. He said after spending a long time looking, he nearly called me to ask where the wrapping paper was. But then he was putting stuff he’d pulled out of the closet and sorted through back in, when he happened to grab the red and green canvas bag by the sides instead of one of its handles—and he realized it was full of rolls of wrapping paper.

“It wasn’t until then that I remembered we’d gotten rid of the plastic container,” he told me later.

I chuckled, teased him, and then thanked him. Because usually I’m the person who is looking right at something (or already holding it in my hand) thinking that I can’t find it.

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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