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The Folks Who Bring You Christmas . . .

It’s finally Christmas morning, and another hectic holiday season is almost over.

Santa has come and gone, and most of the colorful wrappings are torn from packages that were under the brightly decorated tree. The stockings that were hung by the chimney with care lie discarded on the floor.

Preparations for Christmas dinner are under way, and the smell of roasting turkey wafts from many a kitchen. Thoughts turn to family and friends who will gather later.

All but forgotten are the crowded parking lots, the long lines and the rest of the nerve-racking hustle-bustle that goes with the season.

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Also far from most of our minds are the people who helped bring us Christmas--the store clerk who painstakingly helped select that special tie or cologne, the delivery man who banged on your door each time a package arrived, the nice woman who hand-packed a box of candy and waited patiently as you made your selections.

Most who provide services to people during the holidays have worked long hours and have had little time for Christmas preparations for themselves.

“I have one day off before Christmas, and I haven’t even bought one gift,” said a harried clerk in a women’s clothing store last week.

“We’ve been open until 11 every night. I didn’t want to work this much.”

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Following are a few examples of people who made Christmas a little brighter for others this year. Their stories were compiled by Times staff writers.

The gift wrapper: Esther Loveman makes pretty packages with holiday cheer.

Esther Loveman will wrap almost anything.

Loveman, who has been wrapping gifts at The Broadway in Northridge for more than 14 years, said wrapping tables is about the hardest, and once she had to do a big chest with drawers. But even she has her limits.

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“We don’t do refrigerators,” she said.

A woman who is quick with a smile and loves to laugh, Loveman works at a long counter, with ribbons and 12 different kinds of colorful Christmas paper within reach. She is the senior member of the Northridge Broadway gift-wrapping team.

She estimates that during the Christmas season she wraps between 150 and 200 presents each day. While that kind of pace is hectic, Loveman said she has a good time.

“It’s a fun job, because we have a great group of people here,” she said, gesturing to the several women busily wrapping and tying bows alongside her. “We have a radio on. We talk a lot.”

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Despite the harried condition of most of her customers, Loveman said most of them are in a good mood. “Once in a while, you get a cranky person, but not too often,” she said.

Loveman said there is a definite technique to wrapping a present. “There’s a certain way of doing these things,” she said, as she snipped a piece of ribbon with a pair of scissors.

She said she learned her technique through experience but likes to kid people who ask her about it. She recalled with a chuckle some people who “wanted to know where I learned my skills. And I said, ‘The UCLA School of Gift Wrapping.’ ”

Although this season has been hectic, that hasn’t dampened Loveman’s enthusiasm. “I get tired, but not tired of this,” she said. “I love it. That’s my last name, I love it!”

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But her family shouldn’t expect presents wrapped in the brightly colored paper and festive bows that Loveman spends so many hours doing at work.

“I don’t wrap Christmas presents,” she said, laughing. “I give it to them in the boxes.”


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