Laughing at the Elephant

I had to wait a few days to make this post. Last Saturday we had one of the annual highlights of our year. Each year, friends of ours organize a Christmas party (adults only) for 30-40 folks. It's always lots of fun, primarily because of who gets invited. In most social groups, there's usually one or two people that are the proverbial "life of the party." Well, in ours, there's a few guys who could probably make some of the gals wet their pants laughing. It just comes naturally. Each year at this Christmas party, we participate in a white-elephant gift exchange. If you've not been fortunate enough to participate in such an exchange, everyone brings a $5-or-less gift, new or used, nice or ugly, and puts it into the pile. Many of the gifts are wrapped in very appealing paper, but veterans have learned to avoid those presents at all costs; they always conceal something you're sure to wish you'd left in the pile.

As people select gifts, we all get a good laugh. But you also have the chance when your turn comes around to steal an already unwrapped gift from someone else (a single gift can be stolen up to three times before being out of play). Watching the kinds of things people are interested in--or the kinds of things they'll pick just to get a good laugh--is half the fun. It's one of those experiences where you really should take some ibuprofen before going because your laughing muscles will ache so profusely when you are ready to come home. We've been doing this for probably 4-5 years now, and it's grown a bit each year. But the best part is that some of the funnier gifts keep making reappearances each year.

There's just something about a regifted handheld male urinal each year that has the whole group rolling on the floor. This year, we knew "it" would be there. "It" is always there. We just wonder and wait in anticipation to see who would be receiving this treasure without value. This year, it came with extras: hot cocoa and drink mix. All the more valuable! Rochelle came home the lucky winner, but Shane is really the happy one! Some of the funnier comments had to do with the idea that it could be thoughtfully placed on a desk at work as a great conversation starter. That's what I'm talking about...

Here's a rundown of my top 5 list this year (in no particular order, of course):
  1. A "golden idol" that looks like it came straight out of Indiana Jones. This one was stolen three times until Ryan ended up with it (after some fancy trickery assistance by his wife!) I hear that this will be the new trophy for the annual no-rules pinewood derby competition. Good move.
  2. An African-American Santa Claus figurine that would surely complete anyone's collection.
  3. A scary looking African craft that evoked comments like "does that come with voo-doo pins or do I have to buy those separately?"
  4. The ever-present butt-head hat. Not just for UV protection! Imagine an unattractive pair of briefs made into a hat. This one has been around for several years. Jamey, you picked well this year!
  5. Some Ho Ho Ho boxers with a Santa hat for him, that reportedly have a matching top for her.
Then there's some of the other notables. A remote control the size of Manhattan. As we get older, we'll laugh less about these things. Shane already made his comments on this one, though I think he purchased his through more legitimate channels. How about an autographed Hillary portrait (really a lovely shot).

But, most folks would agree that there was only one "winning" gift this year, and guess who came home with it?! That's right, baby. Me. When you see this little treasure, you'll understand. Most light switches lack the Renaissance-ic feeling that this piece so clearly evokes.

Folks suggested that I put this museum-quality artifact in my office, which is a good idea. The only better idea is to regift it at an upcoming birthday party (I'm sure I'll have an upcoming entry on the outcome there!)

The thing that really confuses me is this. After 4-5 years of going to this party, and knowing just when it will be each year, what is it that causes me to wait 364.75 days to find the gifts that we'll take to the party? Good white-elephanting takes forethought. Of course, many of the greatest gifts have been thoughtfully prepared long before party day. Yet, for some reason, I'm genetically programmed to wait until the last second. This year, we had our gifts ready about 10 min before the party, and that was after walking around the house and saying things like "wow, maybe a cinder block would be a great gift!" (A poor reflection, I suppose, on the general downward spiral of our intellectual capacity of our society...)

And so for next year, I've already added an entry to the crackberry calendar, reminding me to ponder my gift-giving potential with great depth...beginning December 1st.
Thanks Carly and Rochelle! Please pass out the meds at the beginning next time.


Becky said…
Sunshine Bob had a light plate like that in his bathroom downstairs at grandma Andrews house. (less statuesque and more cartoon) I was 8 and fascinated by it lol.
Sounds like a good time.
TJ said…
That is indeed a very...ahem...interesting gift. Much better than my $5 gift:
smallred said…
LOL, nice post Chris. It was sure a fun party, and I was definitely sad to not have walked away with the light switch. I was excited about the male urinal, but my wife has hid it from me. Oh well.

I found a sticker after the party that must have fallen off of the light switch you won. It said something about if you leave the light on for more than 4 hours you need to call a physician. I thought you'd want to know.

Keep up the great blogging!

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