For the past few months, a section of my home has resembled a warehouse. Indeed, it’s filled with various sizes of cardboard boxes. No, I haven’t fallen behind on recycling duties. Instead, this year I finally remembered to stock up on boxes so I wouldn’t be forced to empty my closets and cabinets in order to box gifts and goodies.

What’s that, you say? The post office and stores sell boxes.

I’m going to assume this is your first visit to this-here space because I do not buy boxes.

In fact, if you ever receive a gift or goodie from me in a purchased box, please know that I have recycled said box. There was a moment of weakness a couple years ago when I considered buying a box from the US Post Office. I had trekked to the post office in the rain. There were only a few mailing days left before Christmas and when the postal worker told me the box I wanted to use wouldn’t work, I said to myself, “Self, I’m going to buy one of their fancy boxes.”

To which self replied, “The expletive you are!”

So, I slogged back home in the rain, looked through the cabinets, emptied my box of nails and screws, placed the goodie inside said box, and returned to the post office. (No worries, the nails and screws eventually found a new home.)

By the way, dear readers, the US Post Office will allow us to reuse boxes if we remove the old addresses from said boxes. Although I had done so, there was another issue with the box. I cannot remember the issue at this moment. All my other reused boxes have passed inspection.

Anyway, when it comes to wrapping presents, I’ve stuffed gifts in whatever boxes I can find in the house. You know, like envelope and cereal boxes. One year, my great-niece (emphasis on great), opened her present from me, which was in an oatmeal box, and put it aside. When her mom asked her what Cook – that would be me – got her, she said, “Oatmeal.”

I don’t know what made me happier – that she didn’t question why I had bought her oatmeal or that she didn’t throw a tantrum. As I mentioned earlier, she is great. But let’s face it. Some kids would have thrown that alleged box of oatmeal back at Antie Cook, demanding a toy or, at the very least, a pair of wacky socks.

But I like to think she said to herself, “Self, it’s on brand for Cook to buy a kid oatmeal for Christmas.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.