As Christmas Day drew nearer in December of 2017, my mom brought boxes and boxes of wrapped presents to put under my tree until our Christmas gathering when she could hand them out to each of her kids. I had a little four-foot tree that I had bought on sale for twenty-five dollars from Michaels three years earlier. My husband and I bought the tree when we were living in an apartment at the beginning of our marriage and didn’t have the space to store a full-size tree. Even after we moved into a house, we loved our little tree and didn’t want to replace it. Each year, we set up the tree and placed it on top of the round glass bistro table that we used outside on our patio in the summer.
That year, my little tree stood tall and the lights and tinsel sparkled brightly like a mountain amidst a stack of beautifully wrapped boxes. The Christmas paper my mom had chosen that year was red and had repeating squares of an adorable brown teddy bear with a red scarf tangled in the lights beneath a Christmas tree. The teddy bear on the wrapping paper reminded me of a 1973 Christmas cartoon I used to watch as a child called, “The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas.” It’s a story about a bear who refuses to hibernate like all the other bears because he wants to find out what Christmas is all about and goes in search for it.
The bear on the wrapping paper reminded me of the scene near the end of the movie when Theodore Edward Bear (Ted E. Bear for short), overcome by exhaustion, sits down beneath a Christmas tree in a shabby apartment and falls asleep only to be awoken a while later by a little girl who sweeps him up in her arms and hugs him. That’s when he discovers the meaning of Christmas is “a simple thing called love.”
“The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas” is a movie that holds a special place in my heart and gives me warm feelings of childhood nostalgia. That’s why when I saw this wrapping paper, I was adamant that it had to be preserved somehow. I noticed that the squares (well… actually, they’re rectangles) were the perfect size for a quarter-fold card. Naturally, the creative cogs in my brain started turning and I thought about how cute these squares would look on a Christmas card. And since there were so many large boxes beneath my tree wrapped with this teddy bear wrapping paper, I knew I would be able to make a lot of cards.
That year I became the annoying family member who carefully unwrapped my presents so as to avoid ripping the paper, and I even took it a step further and asked my ENTIRE family to try to avoid ripping the wrapping paper. I’m sure they all thought I was a little off my rocker that year, but they’ve come to expect these strange requests from me since I’m the creative one in the family and I know they’ll love me for all my quirks anyway.
After Christmas, I sat down with the stacks of wrapping paper and began cutting out the squares. I was able to salvage most of the wrapping paper and by the time I had finished cutting, I had a stack of 120 teddy bears to work with. I thought the teddy bears would look nice on a red background, so I bought red cardstock from Michaels and cut each sheet down into halves to make a quarter-fold-sized card 4 inches in height and 5.5 inches in length. Then I glued a teddy bear to the front of each card and voila! I made my very first bundle of Christmas cards from wrapping paper.
Of course, I came to realize that wrapping paper makes beautiful Christmas cards and I’ve been continuing to experiment with different wrapping paper over the past three years and will continue experimenting in the years to come as long as wrapping paper is still being used to wrap gifts. Currently, I have three different bundles of handmade Christmas cards available for sale in my Etsy store until the end of December.
We are currently in a day and age where human consumption and waste has reached peak levels to the point where it has become dangerous to the environment, both in the short-term and long-term. According to Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, wrapping paper and gift bags alone account for approximately 540,000 tonnes of waste each year, and unfortunately glittery, velvet or foil gift wrap cannot be recycled in most cities because of the dyes used to make it (source: Global News “How much Christmas wrapping paper, tape and gift bags do Canadians throw out each year?”).
So if you find yourself in a position where you receive gifts wrapped in sparkly, shiny wrapping paper, don’t throw it out! Instead, try to do something creative with it, such as make Christmas cards for friends and family members (preferably for people who are likely to keep your cards over trashing them at the end of the season), use it to rewrap another gift, or even donate it to crafters you know who will find ways to reuse it in their work.
This Christmas, may you discover for yourself what Christmas is all about, just like Ted E. Bear did in 1973.
Have a happy holidays!
I hope that you will find peace and inspiration through my blog and handmade creations!
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