It was my birthday recently, and today I picked up a gift-wrapped parcel from the post office, sent by friends in Sweden. When I say gift-wrapped, I mean just that. The parcel had been sent – not inside a jiffy bag, or a cardboard box, but as the present it was, an address label stuck to its front.
The man behind the counter glanced at the wrapping paper. “Is this some kind of Christmas thing…” he asked, referring to the elaborate pattern of blue and gold, decorated with Dala horses and couples in full Swedish folk dress, dancing around flags. “It’s a Swedish thing,” I explained excitedly, while my heart pounded at the sight. Traditional Swedish gift-wrap always has this effect on me. It makes me instantly revert to the dumpy kid in the frozen north, going nuts at Christmases and birthdays. The suspense was almost the best part, that moment when what was inside was still concealed and the possibilities were endless. It could be anything beneath that thin, crisp paper – anything!
But back to the present-day parcel. At work, I couldn’t stop myself from unwrapping the gift. At first, I was very careful, trying to preserve the precious paper. Then, when it became clear there was quite a lot of it, I began tearing at it. And tearing. And tearing. By the end it covered the entire office floor. “What did you get…?” my colleagues asked, finding me flustered inside a sea of blue and gold. Somewhere in its midst was the actual gift. I couldn’t remember what it was, or even seeing it, completely entranced by all the lovely paper. I made attempts to gather it and myself back into some sort of order. “It’s a Swedish thing…” I muttered, and nothing more was said about it.
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TEXT & PHOTO: MARIA SMEDSTAD