I wrapped a gift today. I love an elegantly wrapped present, in carefully chosen paper, or box, with tasteful bows or other decorations. When I lived in Thailand, I saw that even the average everyday person wrapped gifts as if it was an art form. I tried to emulate them, but failed dismally. New Zealanders just aren’t very good at presentation. And so, I know my sister won’t mind that the gift I wrapped was not beautiful. And I’ll try to do better at Christmas.
What I am good at, however, is making cards. I like making personalised cards, personalised to what the recipient will like, or to a part of their life. For example, my mother (whose maiden name was Rose) gets endless cards with photographs of roses. After my trip to South Africa, I began a point of making birthday cards. I chose the animal or bird I thought the recipient would a) like the best or b) represent them the best. So my horse-obsessed niece got a zebra birthday card, my tall, slim mother who loves looking out our window when she visits got my favourite giraffe, my tall, slim sister received a flamingo, and my other sister was the recipient of the lioness with her cub – she understood the “fierce mother protecting her cub” thing instantly. My fit brother-in-law was the recipient of a wild dog – photographed after tracking them for 60 kilometres. I can’t remember the others I created – I don’t think I gave anyone a wart-hog card! And although I remember being tempted by hippos and rhinos, I think I restrained myself. After the year of animals, I have focused on flowers, and as a result rather obsessively but inexpertly photograph flowers when I travel, but forget to do it when I have time here at home.
I suspect the next phase will be Greek, Turkish and Roman ruins. I’m not sure how I’ll make that personal. But I have some ideas (an ancient library for a keen reader, or a troglodyte cave for my old-fashioned father-in-law!) already.