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Harris Blackwood: The beauty of a gift box for Christmas
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The guy who invented the clear plastic clamshell packaging is not one of my favorite people.

First, it did away with the box.

Second, it takes an incredibly sharp knife or pair of scissors to open the thing.

I am a fan of the box. A box adds an element of mystery to a present. There is something wonderful about shaking a box and trying to guess what treasure it holds.

Everything sounds about the same inside of one of those plastic things.

Some boxes give definite clues as to what may be inside. Tiffany, the jewelry store, has a blue box like no other. If a woman gets a small box from Tiffany, it may come with a prospective husband.

One year, I discovered a pair of shoes my mama had bought me for Christmas. I let it slip I had found them. Mama ended up wrapping each shoe individually, and it through me a curve.

Boxes have wonderful second or even third lives. If someone has opened something in a box, you can use the same box to pack them some of the Christmas goodies such as brownies or divinity or pralines to take home.

I don’t know if kids are as imaginative with boxes as we were in days of old. When we got tired of playing with the toy, we would play with the box. If you got a set of Hot Wheels racing cars and a track, you could elevate the track by using the box.

If someone got something in a really big box, it could become a tunnel or a place to hide in an indoor game of hide and seek.

Boxes lined with a blanket can become the temporary napping site for a new puppy. Or a plain old box can be the domain of a turtle or a rabbit. You can’t do that with a plastic case.

A few years ago, someone came up with the idea of the gift bag: A festively colored shopping bag containing a present and accented by tissue paper. Now, those are nice, especially folks who are challenged when it comes to gift-wrapping. But, it is not a box.

Speaking of wrapping, I will always be in awe of people who just can take a simple box and wrap it into something spectacular.

The late Betty Wade worked for a number of years at Riverside Pharmacy. She could do magic with wrapping paper, but oh, what she could do with a few twists and turns of ribbon. We still have some of the bows she made with beautiful velvet ribbon. We call them “Miss Betty” bows, and they are indeed special.

I hope this Christmas brings you something special and I hope it comes in a beautifully wrapped box.

By the way, don’t try to unpeel the tape and somehow salvage the wrapping paper. It was meant to be torn open to give you that extra element of surprise. Or if you’re like me and really don’t want anything new, take a moment and think back on a time when someone placed a really lovely box in your hand with a gift you still remember or treasure.

Just thinking about it makes me smile.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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