parcels. I have never been good at wrapping parcels. I am not even good at wrapping the simple book shape - and, mostly, that is all I need to do.
I have just one aunt, not that much older than me, who is a brilliant wrapper. Her parcels come with beautiful paper and ribbons and bows and a card that matches or compliments the parcel - and does it to perfection.
I have a friend, interested in Japanese art, who presents her gifts with intricate paper-folded perfection.
My youngest sister can also paper-fold flowers and other items and has been known to wrap and decorate. Middle Cat will do fancy bows and finds amazing cards.
My brother just wraps (or, I suspect, his wife does) and leaves it at that.
The Senior Cat is absolutely hopeless. I am actually better than he is.
The Senior Cat reminds me of his father. On Christmas Eve my grandfather would shut himself in the dining room and wrap the presents he had bought. My grandfather was a tailor. He should have been neat-fingered and able. He was not, at least with respect to parcels. There would be mutterings and the crackling of paper and string (he used string) and heavy breathing as he wrote the labels. He never swore in English but he could swear in Gaelic and did - quietly and in the fond belief that nobody knew what he was doing.
The Senior Cat does not swear but he will appeal for help. I am the one who has to give it. Our paws cross paths. I never ask him for help. It is better to struggle on alone with scissors, paper, tape and labels. I never worry about ribbon or bows. My paws get tangled in the tape, the paper is crooked and not as firmly wrapped around the book as I would wish and then - the tape does not stick!
And yet, I like parcels - for other people. I like to see them wrapped. I love giving them to other people. There is that heart-stopping moment when they open it of course. Will they like it? Have they already read it?
Or, if I have made it, will it fit? Is the colour right?
And then you clean up the torn paper and wonder why you took the trouble - until you see someone smiling at you because there was that little bit extra, that hug of paper around the parcel that says "I care about you."
Oh yes, parcels.