Gift bags have been one of the best inventions since sliced bread. Maybe even better than bread, which I don't eat.
Growing up, Granny salvaged every piece of wrapping paper she could, re-using it within an inch of its folded life year after year.
Some years, the boxes may have had more than one paper on it if she didn't have a piece big enough to cover it. She was just that thrifty.
When gift bags came out, she was thrilled and so was everyone else.
No more going around picking up the wrapping paper; instead, Granny told us to not write names on the tags of the bags so they could be recycled.
These lovely little bags made us all lazy when it came to wrapping.
You bought a gift, found the perfect bag, some tissue paper and stuffed it inside.
Granny saved the tissue paper, too. I'm telling y'all, the old gal re-used everything. That's what folks that grew up with the effects of the Depression did.
My first full-time job in retail was at a specialty store which had a gift-wrapping counter.
It made my work-life so easy. Any gifts I bought I had wrapped as well.
"They ain't got gift bags?" Granny asked, eyeing the box I gave her.
"No, they wrap their gifts, Granny."
She grunted. "I ain't going back to saving wrapping paper."
Then I went to work at Belk and had a rude awakening.
The store policy was, if you sold it, you wrapped it.
"What?" was my response.
It's hard enough to wrap something in general - having a line of customers waiting for you makes it worse.
Usually not having tape at the wrapping station was another dilemma.
Even better - being out of the courtesy wrap and no back up rolls were stashed underneath the counter.
Not only were the customers you were wrapping for angry but the ones waiting on you to ring them up were, too.
And it was 30 minutes past the time you were supposed to leave and you hadn't had a break in about 4 hours.
It was one of those moments you did not dare make eye contact with the people standing behind the one right in front of you.
I am sure anyone who has ever worked retail completely understands.
Now - put all of this and then some on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve had a totally different energy when working retail. And, as crazy as it was and may sound, I didn't mind the chaos.
People, for the most part, were in the Christmas spirit. The others who weren't, were in such a panic, they were just grateful to find something for a gift.
It was festive and fun even though it was a special kind of retail insanity.
Add to the frenzy that everything I sold I had to wrap.
But by Christmas, I had it down.
My prior wrapping attempts, which looked pretty much like a squirrel's nest held together with a foot of tape, had been transformed into smooth packages with crisp corners. My tape usage went down from half a roll to the least amount necessary.
While it was not a masterpiece, it was a far improvement over my previous wrapping attempts.
And, thankfully, the time it took me to wrap them had drastically improved.
After I left my job with Belk, I didn't have the opportunity to wrap many packages since we were under orders to use the bags.
Until this year, Cole said he wanted his gifts wrapped.
"No bags. I don't want to be able to peek."
Of course, his gifts arrive right in front of him.
"I can't wait to see what this is!" he will say excitedly. "There's no way you can wrap this and me not see it. What is this? Is it what I think it is?"
"Wait - how did you wrap that so fast?" he asks eyeing the newly wrapped package. He had been chattering along all the while, obliviously to how quick I tore the piece of paper and tucked the item in it and quickly secured it with tape.
Years and years of high pressure practice, and it finally came in handy.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."