Why We Wrap Gifts

December 14, 2012

Rolls of holiday gift wrap

Rolls of holiday gift wrap

Gift wrap

Gift wrap

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“For us . . . a gift ought normally to be wrapped.  We call it a ‘present’ because it is presented. . . Extra trouble is taken because of the need to declare that, whatever it is, the thing thus enclosed is not a commodity.”
— Margaret Visser, The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude

I was intrigued by Visser’s comments about our custom of wrapping gifts.  Long ago, when most gifts were one-of-a-kind, handmade presents, it wasn’t common to wrap them.  These days, when most of us go to the store to buy our presents, the wrapping converts what we bought (a commodity) into something special.  Even today, handmade gifts, like jars of jams or plates of cookies, are often minimally wrapped or presented in clear cellophane, so that the gift is not hidden.

Visser mentions another reason why we wrap presents:  “One of the purposes of gift-wrapping personal presents is to provoke a sentiment of gratitude.  When the gift in its wrapping is handed over, the recipient says ‘Thank you.’  This gratitude cannot be for the object, since the receiver does not yet know what it is.  Thanks is for the giving — for the kindness in itself, apart from the actual thing given.  It is for the trouble freely taken, and for the thought, which is what ‘counts.'”

Rolls of festive Christmas gift wrap

Rolls of festive Christmas gift wrap

Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm checks an order at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

You have to get up early to catch the action at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.  The doors open at 6 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and by 6:30 a.m. the warehouse is already a whirl of activity.  Florists and buyers arrive at sunrise for the freshest blooms.  I can image the local growers on the road in the pre-dawn darkness hurrying to get their flowers to market in time for this buying rush.

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market is open to the public on Fridays from 10 – 2 (small fee for admission)

Ready to load up the car with new purchases

The back of another florist’s truck

This has obviously been a good year for our local flower growers, and it is gratifying to see the market flourishing.  Summer is a season of abundance in the flower fields, and inside the warehouse was a bounteous array of choices for bouquets and floral arrangements.  Here are some photos:

The morning sun casts a shadow through the open warehouse door.

Nicole, the front desk manager, greets buyers and keeps the operations flowing.

Oregon Coastal Flowers section of the warehouse

Such an assortment of colors and textures for unique floral arrangements

Deep purple calla lilies lined up for purchase, Oregon Coastal Flowers

Buckets of calla lilies, Oregon Coastal Flowers

Floral lamp shades, J Foss Garden Flowers

Green and orange gladioli, J Foss Garden Flowers

Calla lilies await wrapping

Wrapped and ready to go

Wrapping supplies

A buyer backs up to the loading dock for her purchases

Dahlias in yellow bucket

Sneezeweed assortment in brown wrapping paper


Check out counter

Fallen blossoms and petals on the loading dock

Scabiosa, Jello Mold Farm

The loading dock at 7:30 a.m. — the early morning rush was over.