Mom’s Voice: It’s a Wrap

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gift wrapNot sure when cameras following prospective buyers traipsing through houses or watching sweaty chefs wrangle fondant that is the wrong temperature for molding, became entertainment.

Nonetheless, the popularity of reality shows seems to have no end in sight.

From surviving in the wilderness to surviving the rejection of a bachelor, from pitching a new business idea to singing in the perfect pitch before of a panel of judges, we are fixated with watching strangers do just about anything.

I don’t know people who know people, but if I did, the reality TV show I would like to see aired would be called, “It’s a Wrap.” It would be based around wrapping Christmas presents. Wrapping presents is, in its own right, an art form, and offers a canvas of humanity.

I’m aware that not everyone is in a perpetual state of looking for the cellophane tape the entire month of December. That’s my personality type. There are people out there who know how to use the wire ribbon the way it was intended. Know how to coordinate the colors of gift tags and bows with paper. We all know someone who can be given a basket and a pile of unrelated items and create a themed gift. There are those who even make their own wrapping paper with pressed leaves and incorporate a sprig of lavender into every wrap job.

Some have impeccably organized gift closets where wrapping paper and ribbon are stored in neatly labeled containers. Others go old school and wrap with Sunday comics. One of the first things we figured out as babies was how to open a present. It’s deep within us.

“It’s a Wrap” could draw from the other popular reality shows already on the air. For example, one episode could highlight Hoarders. In thirty minutes we would be introduced to a couple people who save each and every ribbon, piece of wrapping paper, gift box, or scrap of tissue paper. We’d be drawn into a teary epiphany as to why the piles of bubble wrap and Styrofoam popcorn are making it impossible to pass through the front door.  Oh, and the emotional moment when we find the kitty, almost asphyxiated by the piles of cellophane in the bathroom.

The “Pimp My Gift” episode would be a piece of cake: take an ordinary gift wrapping job and bring in a team with airbrushes, sparkles, raffia, frosted pine cones, Christmas ornaments, and candy canes.

Speaking of cake, Christmas is the most popular time of year to give food as gifts. Incorporating Food Channel spin-offs would, I think, be popular. Food related gift-wrapping could open up novel ways of using mini loaf pans or decorative Chinese take out containers. Perhaps competitions pitting chefs against each other as we watch who can more creatively disguise a fruitcake.

Other episodes can follow contestants as they are dropped from a helicopter in a remote part of the earth with a pile of Christmas presents and a knife. The objective: use what is available in the environment to wrap all of the presents. Bark? Animal intestines? Watch that poison ivy there….

I would make sure “It’s a Wrap” wouldn’t be scripted and fabricated like other Reality TV shows are. My favorite episode would be the real sleep-deprived housewives of (fill in any city). Moms in bathrobes, sitting in locked closets past midnight on Christmas Eve, among rolls of wrapping paper, trying to remember which crap is for whom and cursing themselves for waiting until the last minute.

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Visit her at

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