Trash and Treasure: A Christmas Story

A couple weeks ago, my hubby and I attended a Christmas fellowship with some folks from our church. We haven’t been members of the church for quite a year, so we are constantly meeting new people. It was very nice of them to invite us to this special gathering. I was informed, along with the other instructions for the evening, that we would have a white elephant gift exchange.

I’ve participated in white elephant gift exchanges in the past. Normally, the host will provide the maximum price that you can spend on the wrapped gift bought for the exchange. In my previous experiences, a $15 or $25 gift has been the norm. Of course participants always had the option of bringing a gift from their home, but even those gifts were expected to be new or at least unused. I didn’t receive any guidance for this particular party. They only told me to, “Bring something from home that you don’t want.” “Ok, no problem.” My husband and I brought a few of the same books into our marriage. (I read mine; he didn’t…but that’s another story.) So, I grabbed a couple unused books from my book shelf, wrapped them, and went out to bear our first snow of the winter.

I had a wonderful time at the party…met some pretty amazing ladies. We pulled numbers for the gift exchange and I was near the end. (That’s a good thing.) It didn’t take long for me to realize that they literally wanted you to bring something that you did not want. Several of the gifts had been recycled from the previous Christmas white elephant gift exchanges, and some people had collected nonsense throughout the year and wrapped them individually for this very purpose.

The person whose gift I selected was much kinder. I chose a brand new table football game. My husband and I winked at each other. Then he said to me, “I don’t think we are going to have that one long.” This game is somewhat shady because someone can actually come behind you and take your gift. (The gift can normally exchange hands up to three times, hence, the benefit of pulling a higher number at the start of the game.) Someone behind me came and snatched my game table, at which point I was forced to pick another gift.

There were only gift bags left from which to choose. You can never be too sure about those. They can contain something really good or something really bad. First item out the bag, local handmade soap (yes, it was brand new) and smelled quite nice. Not too bad. Next item, tea light candles and holders (Dusty, but “Hey, who cares when you are burning them, right?” I could use those.”) Finally, I unwrapped the tissue paper to retrieve these broken penguins on a white board that was sawed in half (think Mumbo and all his friends from “Happy Feet” on separate icebergs). “Oh no they didn’t! I mean, I’m the new person in the crew and it’s Christmas, shouldn’t I at least get something nice?” My second thought was (and I’m laughing pretty hard at the “ghetto-ness” of the moment at this point), “I’m going to wrap this trash and bring it back to the party next year.”

My White Elephant Gift 2010

Then we returned home, and my daughter invaded the bags. She retrieved the plastic Easter eggs from her daddy’s gift bag. (We will use those.) Then she pulled the penguins from mine. She loved them! On the first night, she took Mr. Penguin (that’s what she calls him) to sleep with her in bed. The next morning, I came down to greet her and the entire penguin family was accompanying her for breakfast. A couple days ago, I shared some popcorn with her and Mr. Penguin. After some snacking, she replied, “Mommy, me and Mr. Penguin don’t want anymore popcorn right now. Our tummies are full.” I said, “Okay, baby.” This just goes to show that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. I think we’ll keep the penguins too.

Do you have any cute Christmas stories to share?

© Natasha L. Robinson 2010

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