I told the friend who called in yesterday.
Our house is never very tidy but there is something about Christmas which seems to make it even more untidy - or perhaps we are more conscious of it because there are visitors.
J....is perfectly capable of making herself "at home" though so she cleared a space at the dining table, took out her knitting, borrowed some needles from me because she had, horror of horrors, left hers behind.
"Do go on wrapping presents," she told me - meaning it too.
I decided against it. I still had to do the day's poppy quota. I have been trying to make four each day until I come to the end of the yarn. I could do those and chat to her. Present wrapping could come later.
In the midst of all that needed to be done it was actually good to stop for an hour and just relax with her. I was very grateful.
I went back to wrapping the presents later and, in doing so, I was reminded again of my paternal grandfather.
I spent many a Christmas Eve with my paternal grandparents. Grandpa would always, but always, wait until Christmas Eve to wrap his presents. He would carry mysterious parcels into the dining room. He would hunt for scissors, wrapping paper, string and tape. Then he would shut the door.
My grandmother knew better than to interrupt. It was a serious business. It was a job he detested. He loved to give presents but he hated wrapping them. As an extremely skilled tailor, supplier of uniforms to the Governors of the state, he should have been a neat fingered wrapper of presents. He wasn't.
There were times when he simply resorted to removing price tags and leaving things in the wrapping provided by the shops. When he gave my grandmother her birthday presents - beautiful nightwear more often than not - the store he bought it from knew him well enough to offer to wrap it for him. It was an offer he accepted with alacrity. (My grandmother would not have cared if the garments had come in tatty paper bags. She saw those nightdresses - which he most definitely chose himself - as the ultimate compliment.)
On Christmas Day of course we children didn't care in the least about the wrapping paper. We just tore it off. Grandpa gave us wonderful presents. They were always books we wanted or things we wanted to do - even if we didn't know until then that we wanted to read them or wanted to do them.
I appreciate "presentation" far more than I used to. The Senior Cat is very aware of it - although, if anything, worse than his father at present wrapping. I get tangled in tape. The paper tears too easily. Even the shape of a book seems awkward.
I do the best I can with the present wrapping but it is best done as a solitary activity. It reminds me of Grandpa.