White Elephants

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.

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