My family still ridicules me relentlessly about getting a blue ribbon and honorable mention at the Indiana State Fair for my 4-H entry in the category of gift wrapping.  I hear stuff like, did you get the corners nice and crisp, did you put the tape on evenly and at regular intervals, did you have plans to be a holiday gift wrapper at the mall when you grew up, blah, blah, blah... Even though my 4-H years were some 30+ years ago, I still get ritualistically blasted for being in "gift wrapping".  I laugh right along with them because it is ridiculously funny. Who in their right mind picks "gift wrapping" as a project.  Who does that?

We were forced to be in 4-H in my house growing up.  Our parents required us to take sewing, foods, and one other project. I did not want to go to 4-H club meetings or sing the
4-H theme song, "...over hill over dale we will climb the 4-H trail..."  What did that mean exactly? Quite confident I was that Casey Kasem would never play that song on the top 40 countdown.  

I did not want to sew anything. To begin with, I hated that my mom made most of my clothes.  Hate would be a mild word for what I felt about home-made clothes.  With that in mind, why in the hell would I want to sew.  I spent more time ripping my stitches out and swearing in my head (couldn't say those words out loud as I would have been in BIG, BIG trouble) than I actually did garnering a lasting sewing skill that I would utilize in my adult world.

Actually I didn't mind taking foods as one of my 4-H projects.  I loved cooking, though I did struggle with having to follow a recipe to the T. My love of cooking was more about creating than following a recipe.  In my adult world I don't follow recipes much.  They are liberal guidelines but not necessarily an exact blueprint I feel need to be followed precisely, or even at all most of the time.  When asked what I put in something, I can tell you the items but rarely the quantities. It's a look and feel process. 

With my two requirements of foods and sewing out of the way, I was now free to pick another project to participate in.  I didn't want another project!  They all seemed stupid to me.  Bug collecting - NOPE!  My oldest sister did a 10 year 4-H tour in entomology.  I hated butterfly nets, killing jars and finding them in the freezer waiting to be pinned to a board.  I did not want to do photography or anything that involved me having to produce a poster board wrapped in plastic.  Drawing was not my thing - stick people were a stretch for me.  Knitting was out definitely.  My grandma tried to teach me but my knitting never went any further than one big long single stitch of yarn unconnected to any other rows.  I could make a great plumb line, but never a blanket!

I settled on gift wrapping.  How hard could it be.... some paper, an idea, tape, curly ribbon, maybe a well placed and home-made ribbon and wa-lah, a project was completed.  I was all about completing them not because I had a huge sense of completing what I started, but because if I completed it I could be done with it.  I just wanted to choke down the broccoli as fast as I could and get it over with:)

It was with that level of effort I approached my blue ribbon honorable mention State Fair gift wrapping project.  I decided to make a package that looked like a roll of life savers.  I used a large oatmeal container as the box - the perfect life savor roll shape.  From there I took white butcher paper and created a replica of a life savor wrapper - coloring all the lines the correct color and drawing on the appropriate TM emblem.  I created some sort of high bedangled ribbon-esque thing to adorn it with.  The trick was to hide all the tape pieces and to create the ends to look like the end of a life savers roll.  Believe me, the category of people in "gift wrapping" was relatively small which allowed my really below par project to skyrocket to blue ribbon level.  I really was just the better of the bads.  Winning isn't really a great win if you only are beating crap.

Did I learn anything from those years of 4-H gift wrapping?  Yes, that the invention of the gift bag made life so much easier.

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