Used gift wrap bows are the meaning of love

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readDec 14, 2018

The saying is true. This is the most special time of the year. From the feeling of the cool air in the morning, and the decorations hanging inside small Mainstreet mom and pop shops. Wherever you turn, little things bring a smile to your face.

As I perused the Christmas village displays, and the football-themed ornaments lining up the counters at our local Wal-Mart, 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.

Each year, us kids 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 repurposed 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 on 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, we desire to represent everything perfectly, without fault. We don’t wrap things anymore. It takes too much time. We don’t open things anymore. We don’t know want to know what’s inside a box, or inside our thoughts. We buy generic bags with gift cards. Our giving has become less meaningful.

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 it’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.

Merry Christmas.



Abraham Villarreal

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