When I was young, and living at home, my mother used to pay me 100 pesos per present to wrap her Christmas gifts for her. Now this was a lot of money for a little kid (Actually, 100 bucks a pop is still a lot of money just for wrapping presents; I mean, it's not like I even wrap them that well or anything.), so it was a pretty great yearly gig for me.
The only catch was that I had to wrap the gifts she was giving me along with all the others. I wasn't supposed to know which ones they were, but when you're the only daughter and younger by seven years than your next-youngest sibling, it ain't hard to guess who the Little Missy Baking Set is meant for!
So, no surprises for me on Christmas Day. Now don't get me wrong, the presents were terrific presents, and always just what I wanted. (Except for the Little Missy Baking Set, which Mom misplaced right after I wrapped it, and therefore only gave to me when she found it at last years later. I was fifteen.) But it added just a touch of cynicism to my holiday season, one that's never quite gone away.
Nowadays, I go around telling my nearest and dearest exactly what I want for Christmas. Not 'hinting', mind you-- telling. Some people think this takes all the magic out of the whole gift-opening ritual, but to my mind, having to pretend I adore some object which I really find quite inexplicable is generally more embarrassing than magical.
Yes, I've grown up into a person who's not overly fond of surprises. And yeah, I wrap all the gifts for my family, including the ones my husband is giving me. Even though we employ two of the most obliging helpers in the world, it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me if I don't wrap every single present myself.
So I guess the magic of Christmas is wherever you personally know where to find it. And I know exactly what I'm getting on Christmas Day, and I can't wait to open my gifts and pretend to be all surprised!
Speaking of magic...
Some time ago, Dean overheard the following conversation between two young girls in our building's elevator:
GIRL 1: I forgot to tell you, I discovered the coolest thing. It's called Magic Tape, and when you stick things with it, you can hardly see it! Parang walang tape!
GIRL 2: Oh my God! No way!
Like I said, magic is where you find it. And cynicism isn't necessarily a bad thing...