My fingers bear cuts from tape dispensers, my arms ache from cutting and wrapping, and my hands are still wrapping gifts on auto-pilot if I sit still more than a minute.
No, I haven't been wrapping my kids' Christmas gifts. We decided in typical hare-brain fashion that it would be a good idea to send gifts to the kids at Julia's orphanage. My friend Lori will be returning to Ust Kamenogorsk with her family to spend Christmas with her little Kaz babydoll, and then escort her home sometime after the new year. She had graciously offered (and people think I'm the crazy one) to give gifts out to the kids at Julia's school. So we put together this cock-a-maimy scheme that on Tuesday I could buy 200+/- drawing pads and boxes of crayons, wrap them, and ship them to Lori before she leaves for Kaz on Sunday. Then Lori in turn will have to haul suitcases for her family of five/soon to be six, plus all the boxes of gifts she's bringing to her daughter's orphanage, plus my 6 boxes weighing a collective 200+ lbs. I'm not sure who should be hauled away and locked up first, her or me. And the winner of this year's Psychosis Award goes to .... envelope please .....
Anyway, you can choose to believe it or not, but generous donations from family, plus the kids' charity jar money, paid for all the paper and crayons. Rosie, Bella and I (plus a friend of Rosie's who, poor thing, happened to be over) wrapped all the pads of construction paper, stationery and coloring books. This morning all 380 items were packed in cardboard boxes, wrapped securely with about 10 miles worth of packaging tape, and hauled over to the packaging store where they were weighed and sent out (you don't want to know what it cost to ship). Hard to believe this time of year, but they will be delivered to Lori's this Friday. Now Lori gets the fun of schlepping all those boxes through several airports while simultaneously keeping track of her family, fumbling with passports and removing shoes at the security checkpoints.
Still, though, I envy her. She and her family will get the joy of handing out gifts to the children in the orphanages on Christmas Day. These are kids who may very well have never opened a wrapped Christmas present in their lives before. I know what we've given is not much, and most kids here would look at you like you had two heads if you gave them paper and crayons for Christmas, but to these kids it's pretty meaningful, and it's something of their own. And they'll know that behind the gift are people who cared enough to make the effort. Whether that effort was manifested by sending a contribution, wrapping gifts, or hauling cumbersome boxes through airports, someone did something to reach out to them and say "Merry Christmas".