The White Elephant Exchange

Okay– I always suck at this.

My family’s white elephant exchange is this weird little dance between the practical and the practical joke, and for the longest time it was the hardest part of my year.  The trick is to buy something that is both awful and wonderful at the same time. It shouldn’t be a serious thing–but it shouldn’t be something completely useless either. For a couple of years my younger kids were forbidden from participating. A. They always WANTED THE THING they opened with all their hearts, and B. Their gifts were so impractical as to render them unfunny. This was a mandate passed down by my parents, and I’m thinking, “Gees… tough crowd.”  Anyway, you guys get the idea.

This is a family tradition that we take seriously– the idea is to deliver something hilarious that people enjoy using.

Did I mention I suck at it?

One year I bought bath stuff from Bath and Body Works.

One year, it was a homemade scarf.

Neither of which are particularly funny.

And in the meantime, my family was kicking ass. The slippers made of maxi-pads with ten dollar bills folded into bows across the top–THAT was funny. The copy of that one Jim Carrey movie that nobody watched–THAT was funny. The little desk basketball game–THAT was hilarious.

I sucked at this game.

But this year… this year, I did okay.

This year, as we were shopping at Spencer’s, I got an idea.  “Hey, how about one of those fuzzy blankets–one of the ones with the super specialized fandoms on them? See–nobody will know the fandom, so ha-ha, but it’s a BLANKET, so it’s PRACTICAL.”

Mate was on board. He got one too.

And it’s true–the blankets were in high demand, and both of them were stolen often as the game progressed. However, our daughters were stealing them from each other. There may have been blood spilled. Both of them were full of bitter recrimination too–“How could you guys NOT BUY THESE FOR US FOR REAL?”

Mate and I laughed a lot, but at the end I said, “You know what? We picked the wrong fandoms. We should have picked Suicide Squad. Nobody wants that shit right?”

He nodded. “Yeah– that would have been best.”

So, while this year, I did not epically FAIL at the White Elephant gift exchange, mine was still not the best.

No, the best went to Big T–whose white elephant gift was both practical and funny.

He wrapped up a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly in a box, and to his cousins and his sister? He was a comic god.

I will NEVER get the hang of this game.

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