Saturday, December 6, 2008

Unwrapping the Gift

This is a post about gifts and wrappings.

WARNING: Gifts and their wrappings can come in surprising shapes. And like a jack in the box, this post holds what might be an unwelcome, startling, even gruesome, surprise. Be forewarned and ye of strong stomach, read on.

The other day we were driving to my friend Maria's house to paint wrapping paper and Greta, out of the blue, said, "Mama, let's play that you are an armadillo and I have a lava blaster." Even before I said, "Ok, I'm an armadillo" and she started phththt! blasting noises I knew I was done for.

Maria put out a smorgasbord of supplies: paints and glitters and powders and stamps and rollers and scrapers and sponges and balloons. Greta bounced a balloon in paint and bounced it on her paper. Then she took a squirt bottle of red paint and aimed it at her paper. She picked up a credit card and spread the paint out (thanks, Maria, for showing us the best use of a credit card this holiday season).

Me: What a lovely red. So Christmassy.
Greta: It's a dying vampire squid.

I can't look at that paper without seeing the bloodstains of a dying vampire squid. Making the wrapping paper was so much fun and a gift in itself.

So, you remember that warning, right?

Evelyn and Clementine are taking a wilderness skills class. Tracking, trapping (theoretical), camouflage, stealth, observation.

Allison and Casey, the teachers, told us that they'd gotten a great gift they wanted to share with the kids. It was a case of armadillo vs. lava blaster, or to be more precise, raccoon vs. 2 ton SUV.

A dead raccoon on Allison's doorstep. A big fellow. Casey and Allison wanted to help the kids to unwrap this gift. My rabies alarm started ringing like mad. I am as crazy as the English when it comes to rabies. Do you remember the furor the Chunnel caused? Rabid French dogs were going to duke it out with English mad cows in the lights of an oncoming Eurostar train.

I took three deep breaths, bought latex gloves, reminded the kids not to wipe their noses, and let them do it.

Evelyn and her friend Sasha participated most, cleaving the fascia and separating the skin from the muscle. And here is the gift, unwrapped. He looks curiously whimsical with his muscles exposed and little fur booties like a poodle with too close a shave.

They are going to make a cap out of the skin. Another case where the wrapping was the gift.

Which brings us back to gifts.

Here is one of the gifts I try to give my kids--no credit card required--to let them do things that make my skin crawl.

This one was harder than usual for me. I don't even like to look at it myself, but here's why I put it in the middle of the post.

After the class Clementine said that she hadn't participated. I said that was fine, I didn't think I had it in myself to do it, either.

Evelyn said, "I didn't have it in myself. That's why I did it."

It makes me so happy that she found something in herself she didn't expect to find. What a gift.

I'll wrap this up with some more wrapping paper photos, and a wish.

My wish to everyone this holiday season is that you, too, find something unexpected and wonderful inside yourself.


AM said...

I'm scared to come over.

JCD said...

Wow, I wasn't expecting that but I know Chris will enjoy hearing all about it from Evelyn.

patricia said...

Ha! I thought the gruesome surprise was the bloodstains of the dying vampire squid! Until I scrolled down a bit...

Oh my, I surely don't think I have it in myself to skin a raccoon! But I'll keep looking for something else unexpected and wonderful inside myself--I'll let you know if I find it!

Stefaneener said...

This post was a gift. Lyrically written, and many good reminders. The raccoon was a great idea -- we talk about doing it but don't often have fresh roadkill about. Poultry is as far as we go.

And Greta is simply a treasure. I'm glad you're recording these.

Jeane said...

Really cool - good to find that something in yourself especially when it's summoning up the courage toooooooooo do that something that makes yooooouuuuuuuu cringe! JP