White elephant exchange

I was visiting family this weekend for big Christmas celebrations. My Mom had all of her siblings, their kids, and THEIR kids (and assorted others) over on Saturday for a party (53 of us in all). The next day,my Dad's brother had that side of the family at his house. I'm exhausted from the traveling and from being my Mom's "right-hand girl,"but it was a blast to catch up with family.

For additional entertainment, both sides have implemented white elephant exchanges,which is always a riot. For the unindoctrinated, you're supposed to bring a gift that you really don't want or had in your house or whatever. The tackier, crazier, more unusual and useless, the better.In years past, there have been a broken alarm clock, assorted salt-and-pepper shakers, last year's calendar, "romantic items" my cousin got at her bachelorette party, and much more. My Mom,softhearted as she is, always tries to put in a couple of "good gifts"—a good flashlight, a box of candy, gloves, so that we aren't all just trading one undesirable gift for a less undesirable gift.

This year's selections included a stuffed-and-mounted wild boar's head (no joke!), a box of seashells that's been traveling 'round the family for 9 years, a cordless drill (without a charger), and an extinguished fire extinguisher (which turned up at both celebrations--no use in holding on to a bad white elephant gift, right?). But check out my luck at the first exchange! A black fabric makeup case just begging to be painted or crystallized, a cute plaid fabric backpack that could definitely benefit from a little sprucing up—maybe an applique, and a pink corduroy purse with argyle accents that I could mimic with some embroidery. Once I unwrapped that treasure, I quietly hung onto it through the entire second round of trading and luckily, no one stole it, leaving me with the dreaded (but beloved) seashells. I couldn't imagine a present more suited for me! I can't wait until I have a little free time over the holidays to start embellishing.

And just to let you know how obsessed my family is with the aforementioned shells, the prized shells can't end up in the hands of a date or a friend that accompanies you to the party. They MUST stay with a blood relative or a married-in. Engagements don't even count—my family is tough!

As for the second day, I was able to unload the fire extinguisher on my cousin for HER next white elephant party. No sense in bringing THAT home....


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