"Why ribbon, Chief?" Jim sat at the table across from Blair and picked up a jaunty brown reindeer, examining it with interest. "I thought origami used paper."
Blair grinned as his fingers folded and shaped the strip of black velvet. "Origami techniques can be adjusted for lots of materials – paper, palm fronds, ribbon... Mostly I just like being subversive."
Jim manfully resisted complaining about the scattered bits and pieces as he studied some of Blair's other creations – a delicate pink rose, a serene little angel in white and gold, and a stiff but graceful bird of paradise in twilight-blue; Blair had amassed enough shades and colors to put a rainbow to shame. "Subversive?" With a teasing glint in his eye, Jim filched a length of purple ribbon, tied it into a giant bow, and perched it atop Blair's head. He studied the effect, then shook his head. "Fetching as it looks, it doesn't seem capable of bringing down civilization as we know it."
"Going way back, ribbons were a luxury item – so much that the English Parliament once tried to reserve the right to wear ribbons for only the nobility." Ignoring the purple strand curling near his ear, Blair made two careful cuts in the black ribbon with a pair of sharp scissors. "So when a commoner like me gets his hands on this much of it... the world might be coming to an end."
"It would be a colorful rebellion," Jim acknowledged, surveying the rich hues spilling out of several bags, "but hardly life-threatening."
Blair concentrated for a moment as he executed a delicate twist and tuck, then responded to Jim's gentle teasing. "Since I'm going for life-affirming, that's probably a good thing."
It didn't seem that a few ribbon trinkets could attain such import but, in favor of avoiding a ten-minute explanation, Jim didn't voice the obvious question. It seemed safer to ask, "So, where'd you learn to make all these shapes?"
"You should already know the answer to that one." Blair shrugged one shoulder with a wry smile. "I picked up different designs in various places; many cultures have some kind of folding-art that they're happy to teach an interested observer. And there are a bunch of patterns – and directions for making them – on the internet." He nodded toward the open laptop humming at the far end of the table.
"So what happens to them when you're done?"
"Some are for the tree when we put it up, but most will go to everyone in Major Crimes, and some other friends at the PD and university. Just a little something to say I appreciate them in my life, but nothing major that will obligate a return present, you know?" Blair carefully studied the object in his hand, giving it a few more tweaks. "It's like the song says – 'Pretty ribbons to say I love you'."
Blair turned the figure on his hand, and Jim was looking at a little, black, cat-face. "And I do. Merry Christmas, Jim."