We "wrap" Christmas gifts in cloth bags that my mom constructed out of holiday fabric and drawstrings. They make wrapping simple, don't waste paper, and tend to retain tags from Christmas past. I just grabbed two bags to cover presents for the boys and both had leftover tags from Nana. I had to sit on the bed for a minute, hit by a flash of nostalgia for the Christmases past. Memories of previous years danced on a pedestal in my mind, replete with family gatherings, perfect turkeys (the birds, not the relatives) and houses full of simple, low-tech toys that came in big, well-wrapped boxes.
Do you remember wildly artistic and flashy Christmas cards that included no personal photo? Folks used to vie for the most original and lovely card, and any notes were handwritten or typed and carefully signed before inclusion in the foil-lined envelope. Nowadays we send cards displaying our own beaming faces, or at least the faces of our kids and pets. That one family shot tells the world that the kids are alive and growing and there was at least one instance in the previous year when everyone pretended to get along. (You'll get our card this week).
I love to receive these cards, especially from old friends I don't see anymore. Amy from 7th grade swimming and Tonia from high school both have gorgeous girls and it's so fun to see the kids take on the features of their moms as they grow. But it's strange that we send such cards to neighbors down the street who just saw us yesterday, and probably don't want our faces on their mantle. There's a niche here for someone to create a holiday greeting for those neighbors who want to be included but don't want to look at your cheerful vacation shots one more time.
Next subject for Christmas present vs. Christmas past: the ubiquitous gift card. Stay tuned!