One of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions is the white elephant gift exchange. It can be done with any number of people, but it seems to work best with about a dozen. The basic idea is that every person brings a wrapped gift within a certain price range (re-gifting is fine — even encouraged). Depending on the crowd, the gifts can range from the quite nice to the very odd. I, of course, generally go for the latter. Each person then draws a number to determine play order. When it’s your turn, you can choose to either open a wrapped gift or steal an already unwrapped gift from a previous player. Stealing can set off a chain reaction, as the theft victim then gets the same choice of unwrapping or stealing.
This year, my mom and I celebrated Christmas Eve with a group of friends in Carson City. We had a massive collaborative dinner (12 people, 6 of whom cooked and/or baked), and settled in to do our white elephant game after dessert. A fair amount of stealing went on, as well as some much complained about — but perfectly legal — family collusion. My mom ended up with a B.B. King 2-CD set, and I got a pocket electronic Yahtzee game. My gift entry, which I’m surprised to say was actually desirable enough to change hands at least once, was this:
It’s not just a figurine of a cowboy using an outhouse — it’s a Christmas figurine of a cowboy using an outhouse. “And where does one purchase such a thing?” one might ask. Why, at one of this country’s finest retailers, of course: Walmart. It’s part of a whole line of “Cowboy Christmas” items, most of which seem to have little or nothing to do with Christmas. I must say, there was a lot of awful crap under $10 to choose from at Walmart, but I knew as soon as I found this that I had a winner.