Wrapping Gifts in Love Means More Than Wrapping Them in Paper

A columnist's tradition is not something she wants to hand off because of SMA

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by Halsey Blocher |

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Last month, I sat at the kitchen table intently wrapping a birthday present as the sunlight began to fade. My home health nurse sat beside me in the dwindling light, with a piece of tape on her extended finger for when I would need it.

“I wish people could see you wrap these,” she said as I struggled to straighten a stubborn crinkle in my fold.

My nurse often helps me wrap gifts. In the nine years that she’s worked in our home, she’s helped me wrap gifts for just about everyone except herself. (She wouldn’t be surprised if she helped wrap her own gifts.)

In the weeks since, her observation has stuck with me. It reminds me of my mom’s sentiments of wishing people could see how much work I put into collecting donations for fundraisers. It’s something she says every time she hears someone hang up on me, reject my request, or speak rudely to me.

But just as I cheerfully persist with those phone calls, the challenges that SMA adds to gift wrapping don’t deter me from joyfully completing the task. Doing this for others is something that makes me happy, even if it isn’t always easy.

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A labor of love

I once wrote that wrapping gifts “feels as though I’m wrestling with the paper instead of wrapping gifts in it.”

These days, it does still feel a bit like a wrestling match, but it’s starting to seem like I’m winning more often than not. Wrapping gifts does cause some fatigue, and I still need assistance with lifting items, cutting paper, and more.

It’s no longer completely exhausting, though. The little bits of strength and stamina I’ve gained from taking Evrysdi (risdiplam) for several years to treat SMA have made a noticeable difference.

Even so, all of that folding takes a lot of time, and it requires me to tap into my precious energy reserves, especially when wrapping a multitude of Christmas gifts.

My nurse pointed out that I could just ask her or my mom to do it all for me. In fact, I do pass the task off to them if I lack the time or energy to do any of the wrapping myself, and they gladly help with as much as I need.

So why do I insist on tackling as much wrapping as I can manage when I have people who are willing to do it for me? It’s not because I’m stubborn. (Well, that might be part of it.)

What matters most to me about gifts is the love that we intentionally put into them with the hope that they bring joy to their recipients. Taking the time and effort to thoughtfully select or make a gift for someone is a way of expressing appreciation for their presence in our life.

Although the paper may not be perfectly folded, giving the time and energy to wrap a gift can be a further extension of the expression of love found in giving. In the popular Christmas movie “The Princess Switch,” Stacy — disguised as the Duchess of Montenaro — conveys this when she says, “Taking the time to wrap a gift is part of the gift itself.”

But I don’t believe this means a gift is less valuable if it isn’t wrapped. That would place too much importance on the temporary vessel that conceals each gift, and it steals credit from thoughtful givers who may not be able to wrap their generous offerings because of physical limitations, busy schedules, or financial constraints.

Instead, I think the concept that wrapping a gift signifies our love for another is more figurative. At times, this may be demonstrated by literal gift wrapping, but a gift and its packaging aren’t made special by the sparkly paper and bags themselves. Regardless of the materials used, gifts should be wrapped in the exceedingly more beautiful intentions of our loving hearts.

The holiday season presents us with many opportunities to put others before ourselves and express appreciation for others. As we accept these opportunities, we’ll find that they allow us to give in many ways: big, small, easy, difficult, seen, and unseen.

As the year draws to a close, let’s challenge ourselves to give generously and treat everyone with thoughtfulness, good intentions, and humility as we wrap everything we touch in love.

From my home to yours, may your holidays be joyful and everything you do be blessed.

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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