Used gift-wrap bows and the meaning of love

Is it too early to write about Christmas? Not from the feeling of the cool air in the morning, or the decorations already hung in the Garden Center of your local Wal-Mart.

For me, it’s never too early.

As I perused the Christmas village displays, and the football-themed ornaments lining up the counters, it was the gift-wrap bows that caught my eye.

These simple, colorful, familiar bows have stood the test of time. Maybe it’s just one bow that has been carried on for generations. That might be a possibility in my family as my late grandmother Rafaela kept each bow no matter how tattered, or Scotch-tape filled it presented itself.

We were impatient as she started opening up gifts, and always told her to not worry about the wrapping paper, ribbons, or bows. But she knew something we didn’t. She knew that gift-wrap bow had a purpose.

Growing up, the gift-wrap bow was the constant survivor during each holiday season. I imagine that your grandmother, or maybe yourself, has saved a bow for future use. When you think about it, using a used gift-wrap bow is a symbol of the ultimate re-gifted item.

For me, seeing a used gift-wrap bow on a Christmas Eve present was a sure sign that the special item inside was from grandma Rafeala. And after seeing that weathered old bow, it almost didn’t matter what came inside.

I like to think of how many gifts that bow has adorned, through the years. How many smiles it has brought to grandchildren, and others, during cold winter nights. Each crease, and each left over piece of Scotch tape, like a stamp in a passport book.

Seeing a used gift wrap bow makes me feel like someone thought enough of me, to know that it was truly the thought that counted that Christmas, not the fancy box, or perfectly folded wrapping paper.

We live in a homogenized world. Everything feels, sounds and tastes the same. Individuality is being lost to time. From our cars, to our houses, everything should be represented perfectly, without fault.

But a used gift-wrap bow is different. It exists as an act of endurance, a sign that something is being passed along through every generation, and to me that’s a symbol of love and thoughtfulness.

I hope you receive a used gift-wrap bow this Christmas. And think about your grandma, who probably lived during the Great Depression, and new that saving that bow would mean something special, to someone, someday.

Originally published at on October 12, 2016.




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Abraham Villarreal

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting things. I write about them and what makes them interesting.

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