© Mary L. Moore
As the holiday season gets underway, do you experience anxiety, profuse perspiration, and paper cuts? If so, you may have wrapitosis, a malady that strikes well-intentioned gift-givers.
Consider the clinical history of Yul Loggins, a thirtyish accountant and father of three, who persuaded his wife to take the kids out so he could wrap holiday gifts. Armed with six rolls of wrapping paper and enough ribbon to stretch to the North Pole, Yul began work in a jolly frame of mind.
He merrily hummed “Jingle Bells” and began wrapping his first package. Immediately, the paper ripped. Wrapitosis came on like an avalanche and Yul spouted a flurry of words that would curdle hot chocolate. Feeling feverish, he pulled off his cheery Santa sweatshirt, tossed the thin paper aside, and grabbed a roll of more durable stock.
As Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” streamed from his phone, Yul sang, “Why did I buy such cheap pa-per?” The new roll of wrap was thicker and shiny, with bright red bells on a gold background. Unfortunately, it was also slippery and the adhesive tape wouldn’t stick. Yul could tweet 140 characters in 12 seconds flat, but his fingers fumbled with the so-called “magic tape.” The tape dispenser scratched his hand. Then the last piece of wrapping paper fell off the roll and the cardboard tube poked Yul in the eye. He fell backward, sitting on the sharp point of his scissors. The wrapped gift was festive but Yul was flustered—and battered and bruised.
He heard the familiar strains of “Rudolph” and grabbed some wrapping paper with a reindeer pattern. Just as he sang “had a very shiny…” he cut a swath directly through Rudolph’s red nose. Why don’t these scissors cut straight? he thought. And why on earth did I offer to do this? His phone blared, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Yul’s symptoms were worsening, but he was saved by a text from his wife: “Home in 10. Stop wrapping.” Yul’s wrapitosis went into immediate remission.
Another victim of this seasonal syndrome was Marcy Magi. As a wife, mom, and corporate executive, she didn’t have a lot of leisure time. But she loved shopping, gift-wrapping, and entertaining friends. She knew who liked their gifts naughty and who liked them nice.
She was a true wrap artist, with unequalled expertise in judging the amount of paper needed to cover a given number of presents. If gingerbread houses didn’t sit squarely on her wrapping paper, she subdivided them. She rarely encountered problems. Presents in her presence wouldn’t dare wrinkle or rip! Her holiday gifts were a work of perfection.
She decorated each package with unique niceties like liqueur-flavored candy canes or fresh holly sprigs. Of course, the holly was always mistaken for mistletoe, since no one in urban areas has the faintest idea what fresh mistletoe looks like.
Marcy knew all the tricks of the gift trade. However, she sacrificed four full weekends to holiday shopping and spent so much time wrapping packages, her family grew concerned. They never saw her between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Then, on December 25th, this otherwise healthy woman held a gala party and waited eagerly to see her efforts appreciated. When her thoughtless friends ripped the paper from her perfect packages without a word of praise, she broke down—sobbing and sadistically stabbing hors-d’oeuvres with a toothpick. The trauma of wrapitosis left permanent scars on her psyche. Amazingly, she endures relapses year after year.
Of course, most wrapitosis patients fall into neither of the extreme categories mentioned above. Sufferers with a mild case of the disease manage to wrap contentedly at the dining room table. They self-medicate with seasonal beverages, call for pizza delivery on gift-wrapping days, buy stick-on bows, and when faced with an odd-shaped gift, “bag it” in one of those wonderful sacks designed for creatively-challenged wrappers.
Some gift-wrappers encourage their children to wrap presents for relatives. It’s easier to say, “Little Katie wrapped it herself” than to admit that an adult produced a pathetic-looking package. Besides, kids love getting tied up in ribbon and wrap. It keeps them amused for hours … and gives adults time to write Christmas cards (see calligraphitis, a related holiday disorder).
True, there is no cure for wrapitosis, but the prognosis generally favors survival. Most frayed nerves heal by New Year’s Day. The relapse rate for wrapitosis is another story. At this point, researchers can only recommend that patients shop early, limit the length of wrapping sessions, and watch reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life” to ease stress.