|Can you wrap up
Terrorism? Can you give it away? How about
Vigilance? Is it a gift that can be given?
Yesterday, America's Most Gifted Wrapper was crowned. She
gave a gift of Vigilance to the world, and won $10,000 to boot.
See how you can become America's Most Gifted Wrapper
Saturday--November 23, 2002—Ground Zero
Wrapping Up Terrorism &
Tying A Pretty Bow On Top
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 23 --I
wrapped up Terrorism yesterday at Rockefeller Center. I even
tied a pretty bow on it and placed it under George W. Bush's Christmas
Tree. Well, not really. But I'm sure he'd like it if someone
gave it to him. For that matter, so would the world.
Some days, you wish you
could wrap your arms around all the Terrorism in the world and squeeze it
all into in a pretty wrapped box and give it to head of Terrorism Garbage
Disposal. Then, the world could get on with evolving rather
than hobbling about with one foot in the fertile soil of human prosperity
and the other stuck in the poverty-wracked quagmire of indiscriminate,
senseless human violence.
Yesterday morning, I
give myself a respite from the yoke of my daily Terror Hunting. I
went to the Sixth Annual "Americas Most Gifted Wrapper" contest sponsored
by Scotch tape, a 3M company. The contest was held in the concourse
of world famous Rockefeller Center.
Believe it or
not, the winner was given $10,000 for her skill in wrapping Christmas
a gift wrapping guru from Kate's Paperie who lives in Madison, N.J., competed against a bevy of world
class gift-wrapping competitors from Macy's, Bloomingdale's and
Nordstrom's to capture the top prize. The first runner-up, Shamiran David
from Morton Grove, IL, received a $2,500 cash prize.
Shamiran David's wrapped telescope
In elimination rounds, contenders navigated challenging
wrapping courses that included a pair of boxing gloves, a telescope and a
Three expert judges strolled contestant row
after each wrapping bout, examining the handiwork for maximum
professionalism. Robin Cohen, producer of "Wrap Magic" and
president of Bow Jest Enterprises in San Andreas, Calif.; Juanita Lewis,
producer of "Beautiful Bows" and president of Picture Perfect Productions
in Los Angeles; and John Saxtan, editor-in-chief of Giftware News formed
the judging committee.
Yup, it was a big time event. I only wished
they had Osama and Hussein to wrap.
I had a little Terror Trouble getting a front row seat
with my Kodak 3400 digital. When I entered the "Press Corps
Entrance" I showed the young lady monitoring the camera clogged gateway my
VigilanceVoice business card. She let me pass. Then a
young gentleman took me aside and wanted to make sure I wasn't there to
write about Terrorism and Scotch tape. He noticed the words
"Terrorism" and "Vigilance" on my card.. I assured him I was there
to promote Vigilance not Terrorism. I also told him I had done a
story on the world's largest flag made of Duct Tape when it was
constructed in Union Square on the anniversary of the U.S. Army. He
seemed pleased I wasn't going to beam the contest to Osama bin Laden
Duct Tape Flag, June 14, 2002 Union Square, NYC.
I did, however, think of
Terrorism versus Vigilance as I watched the world's greatest package
wrappers spin paper around gifts, deftly snap pieces of Scotch tape from
wrist dispensers to secure them, and appoint their handicraft with ribbons
and bows in a flurry of creative energy monitored by a time clock.
Contestants were judged on speed, as well as art..
While snapping pictures, I thought about
how wrapping packages can be a frightening experience if you're a
last-minute shopper as I am. Amy Coles of Hunter Public Relations
issued a fact sheet with the press kits handed out that day.
It included the following facts from a 3M survey commissioned in September
2001. Its data represented 944 respondents:
|--Sixty-seven percent of Americans wrap at least
a dozen gifts during the
--About one-quarter of Americans (26 percent) wait until at least
before the gift-giving occasion to
wrap presents. (yes, that's me...how
about until the
--Eighty-six percent of women report that they are the primary
gift wrapper in the
home, compared to just 36 percent of
men. Although men are less likely
to take scissors and tape to paper,
nearly 75 percent of men claim to be
at least somewhat skilled at gift
--Who needs wrapping paper? When people run out, they use
lying around the house to finish the
job, including: tissue paper
(44 percent), newspaper (29 percent),
paper or plastic bags (10 percent)
and tin foil (7 percent.)
--Six out of 10 Americans line pieces of tape along table edges for
access when gift wrapping.
I'm one of those ingenious wrappers
who will use whatever leftovers I can find to wrap a package. My
theory is since people are going to "rip" it open anyway, who really
cares? And, I'm big on Scotch tape since I'm not into
ribbons. I'll cinch up a package as though it were a saddle on a
wild bronco just to try and make it harder for the package to be opened.
I figure ninety-percent of the fun of presents is opening them, so why not
make it challenging. I compete for the "worst wrapped" package but
the "most fun to rip apart."
I thought it also a bit ironic to me that
America's Most Gifted Wrapper contest was held in the concourse of
Rockefeller Center just a few feet away from where the controversial
statue of the "Tumbling Woman" had raised so much clamor just a few weeks
earlier. That statue, by Eric Fischl, depicted a woman falling from
the World Trade Center.
"Tumbling Woman" Bronze by Eric Fischl
It was, in my view, a tribute to
the courage of those who died that day. I remember watching those
who leaped that day from Ground Zero and the hush when they did.
All of us who were standing beneath the flames and belching smoke knew why
they were leaping. We knew it took great resolve and
courage for one to chose their death rather than be consumed by the
Terrorist's holocaust. Personally, I also thought the artist had
done a magnificent job in making the woman's stature most dignified in
death, eliciting in me a sense of pride that human beings can die with
pride and courage in the face of Terrorism. But the public rancor
drove the statue out and Rockefeller Center. It was quickly draped
and removed in the darkness of night amidst public protest.
If Fischl's statue represented
the worst of memories of September 11, the Christmas wrapping contest
stood also as a symbol of what happened that day. The attack
by the Terrorists on the World Trade Center was an attack on commercialism
of Western Society. It was an assault not only on the innocent and
helpless, but one designed to try and crush the symbols of wealth,
democracy and capitalism. The idea that the prosperity should rule
the world was the target, and the twisted belief that poverty and
despotism was more powerful than opportunity and democracy was the goal.
It didn't work. The Terrorists only showed their hatred over the
success of others, just as any bully might attempt when he smashes the
toys of children who have things he doesn't.
Angel of Vigilance
at Rockefeller Center
As a symbol of Vigilance
in the face of Terrorism, the gift wrapping contest stood tall in the face
of Terrorism. It was all about the beauty of a gift, and the
giving of life in a world far too embroiled in the taking of life.
Life's values comes alive when someone gives a gift to another, especially
to a child.
I can't imagine a child
in Iraq or Afghanistan, not wanting a beautiful wrapped package as a gift
on his or her spiritual holiday. Gifts ultimately are for
children. Even the ones wrapped and packaged for adults bring
out the child in us all. When we open gifts, we return to that
innocence of our childhood, eager to see the "magic" behind the paper and
bows; gifts make our eyes widen and cause us to joyously sigh "Ohhhhhh"
Gifts are also signs of caring.
They can be simple or complex, but their job is to lift our spirits up and
to remind us there are people who care about our "secret dreams."
When a child drafts a letter to
Santa for his or her "gift list" it's like revealing a deep secret,
sharing it with the world in hopes it will come true. Gifts
represent the reality of dreams, the firmament of one's imagination, the
rewards of hard work.
Gifts are extended arms
hugging children, making them light up like bulb on a tree, or, in places
where there is no electricity, light a bright flame on a candle.
Gifts renew the beauty of life, its hope.
The other day my wife,
who is charge of putting photos in my daily stories and editing them,
placed a picture of a little boy in a Terror Training Camp. He was
being taught how to be a suicide bomber. The picture made me
cringe to think the child's "present" was a belt filled with
dynamite, and that his "gift" was a course on how to blow up himself and
other innocent people.
That same child, I'm
sure, would rather have the beautiful telescope the contenders for the
"America's Most Gifted Wrapper" turned into a gleaming present, or, the
boxing gloves that offer a peacefully "violent" way to resolve differences
without "killing one another." Or the swing set where he could learn
to play peacefully with others and share his wealth rather than selfishly
deny it to others. Instead, he was learning how to wear a "package
of TNT" into a crowd and ignite it.
That evening, when I was
relating my day to my older daughter, who is a peace activist with three
young children, she wondered why I had gone to a "gift wrapping contest"
when there were so many other subjects to write about regarding Terrorism
"You know," I said,
"there's something incredibly powerful about America. Someone who is
gift wrapper, a good gift wrapper, who may not be able to speak our
language very well, or may not have been born in this country, or may not
have a degree from Yale or Harvard, can rise up and become America's Most
Gifted Wrapper. He or she can win $10,000 dollars by being the best
at what she or he does. Now, if that's not an incredible
illustration of Liberty and a reason why Terrorism should be eliminated
from endangering our children, and our children's children's children, I
don't what is."
I thought about
what I said to her. It just came out.
saw the gift wrapping contest as a symbol of Vigilance rising above
Terrorism's shadow. Terrorism's goal is to breed Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency. It seeks to destroy the gift of life,
to smash the presents of "peace" and "prosperity" as Dr. Seuss' Grinch
Who Stole Christmas tried to Terrorize the citizens of the
Land of Who-ville.
In countries that
breed Terrorism as a state of mind, there is much poverty, much repression
of the people by warlords and monarchs or despotic rulers who steal the
wealth of the people, never letting it trickle down, always raking it off
in their pockets as though the citizens were slaves to quench their thirst
for power. And, to divert their attention, the despots point
to others as the source of their repression, seeking to breed hate and
discontent outside their borders.
In America, and other
democracies, the opposite is true. Individuals are charged with the
responsibility to rise up, to become "their dreams," and not to blame
others for anything they don't have because all the opportunity in the
world exists for their taking. Yesterday was one small example of the Big
Picture of Democracy and Capitalism.
A person whose job is to
wrap packages can become the world's best at it. He or she can be
recognized by millions through news pictures and television sound bites
and receive a big fat check for $10,000, which, for many developing
nations represents two years worth of per capita income.
Christine Fritsch did.
There was much more at
stake to the America's Most Gifted Wrapper Contest than just flashy paper,
sparkling red bows, and colorful holiday ribbons. The contest
symbolized the "right to achieve" in a democracy that rewards those who
are willing to rise above the Complacency of being "average."
What also was at stake in the
contest was another nail in the coffin of Terrorism.
Gifts are by their nature "offerings of Vigilance." To give
another a gift is to respect them as an individual. Gifts are signs of
In many cultures, when two
people first meet, they exchange gifts. The idea is that
friendship and community between people comes first, ahead of
at Rockefeller Center
"Gift giving" illustrates the victory
of Vigilance over Terrorism. It reminds us our goal as human beings
is to find ways to respect the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions in us
all rather than fertilize the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that
lurks in us all. Instead of seeking ways to incite the Beast of
Terror within us, gift giving is about resolving our issues, finding
common grounds of respect for one another.
During the holidays, we
give gifts to our loved ones and friends as a symbol of
Vigilance--reminders we can honor the good in us all.. Gifts
represent the highest order of humanness. They speak to our
Vigilant nature, and tend to quiet our Beasts of Terror by bringing joy
and happiness to those who receive them--especially the children..
When we wrap a gift, we
are giving over to another part of us. We are telling that
person we care about them in a special way. We are
building Courage, Conviction and taking Right Actions with another.
Denying gifts is an act of Terrorism, for it makes one feel the fangs of
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency. Parents who disallow
a child to have gifts harden the child's soul.
there are simple, powerful gifts. One of the great
"gift-giving" stories--O'Henry's Gift of the Magi--is all about a
woman who cut her long hair to buy her husband a gift, and a husband who
bought a beautiful comb for his wife's lovely hair, which, unbeknownst to
him, she had cut and sold to afford him a present.
It is the gift's wrapping, not
the gift itself that counts.
It is the love and care of
presenting the gift that truly matters.
The Most Gifted Wrapper
is the one who offers another Vigilance, for by giving Vigilance,
one automatically tells Terrorism that love and peace will overpower
hate and war.
of the greatest gifts you can give this holiday is to wrap up
the Pledge of Vigilance and give it to those you love the most.
It may be the Gift of the Magi.
- 2004, VigilanceVoice.com, All rights reserved - a