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December 12, 2001

Shopping
Posted by Teresa at 06:00 PM *

There’s no grief so great it’ll keep time from passing, and the area of Union Square Park which this fall was full of memorial candles, and flyers showing pictures of the dead, has on schedule been transformed into the annual Holiday Fair, with its rows of canvas booths selling artsy Christmas gifts.

It was just a year ago that in one of them I found a little folding knife. It was of no great price, but it had a good sharp blade, a smooth action, and a handle made of brushed stainless steel that shone like a piece of jewelry. I bought it, and a bit later handed it in its box to Patrick. He looked at me inquiringly.

“For Jenna,” I said. “From you. When she says thank you, say ‘I thought you could use a nice knife for formal occasions’.”

“Ah,” said Patrick. And that was what he did.

I quietly walked past her office door while she was opening the package. I wrap all our presents, because Patrick’s no hand at it whereas I enjoy wrapping gifts. A small package needs a striking paper. This one got butcher paper decorated with tie-dye stripes of food coloring. I wrapped it very precisely, scoring the folds and trimming the excess to end exactly along a corner line, and fastened the paper with contact cement rather than tape.

The contact cement was there for the amusement factor. Jenna was the kind of package unwrapper who carefully removes the paper for later use. When I paused in her doorway, I saw that it had worked. She was raptly picking at the glued-down edges of the paper, and from the look of it would be some while figuring out there was no way the paper could be taken off undamaged. It makes a nice lead-up to the gift itself.

Later, I heard from another friend how delighted she’d been with the knife; how it was just the thing, gloated-over and polished. Happy me.

When we cleaned out her office this spring, we found several pieces of nice wrapping paper tucked away for future re-use. And all through this Christmas shopping season, I’ve kept finding things she would have liked.

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.