Advent and the art of anticipation


By Christina Capecchi


Twenty five years ago Hallmark introduced a simple device that revolutionized the mechanics of gift giving: a paper bag attached to two handles.
The gift bag freed us from tape and scissors, from sizing and snipping and folding. It enabled us to shop on the run, to pick up present and package in one quick stop — en route to the party, even.
With its cheery polka dots and bold hues, the gift bag won us over, becoming the norm and often the sole present carrier at birthday parties and bridal showers. It’s sleek, modern and eminently recyclable, making the rounds from closet to closet, across neighborhoods and through extended families, sometimes returning to the original buyer.
Yet I can’t help but wonder if something’s lost with this added convenience. Back before the gift bag, presents had personality. Aunt Kathy wrapped everything in the funny pages. Grandma tied her packages in red yarn. You could trace a person’s fingerprints on the gift she had prepared. For a moment, you paused to take it in, to tilt your head and behold….

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