How to Stab a White Elephant Right in its Tusking Face

A few years ago, my Aunt Beck proposed that, rather than having a traditional gift exchange, we would have a white elephant.  Here’s why this idea sucks.
For those of you who don’t know what a “white elephant” is, allow me to explain.  In a white elephant gift exchange, each person wraps a gift.  More often than not, this is a gift that is
a. Silly
b. Found at their house
Some method is devised to get each person who is participating to select one gift from the pile (pulling numbers from a hat, etc).  As your turn comes up, you can either choose to open a wrapped gift from the pile OR take someone else’s already opened gift.  That person then has to select and unwrap another gift.  Most often, this is good fun, with people taking each other’s gifts, laughing at the silly things that people bring and then typically asking, “So what are we going to do with this anyway?” on the way home.
That’s how it is supposed to be.
That is how Ms. Kitty and I interpreted it.
We were wrong.
The first year the family did this, we brought a 5 lb Santa Claus candle.  The thing stood about a foot tall and was ridiculous.  Great white elephant gift!  We thought.  When my Aunt Beck, who brought up the idea in the first place, opened the Santa, she frowned and said, “Well, that’s a weird gift.  Thanks, I guess.”  Remember this, because this response is important later. 
Other reasons the white elephant failed that year:
– Gift selections were succeeded by explanations that “This gift was really intended for _____”
– No one took anyone else’s gift.
– Most gifts were store-bought.
– Most gifts were sensible.
– Aunt Beck handed out gifts to most people despite her orders that no one was to bring gifts for specific people.
In other words, it was kind of pointless.
Fast forward to three weeks ago and I learn, via text, that this year’s family Christmas get-together includes a white elephant gift exchange.  I immediately called my mom.
“What are the ground rules for the white elephant?” I asked.
“I know.  Last time,” my mom replied.
“Last time was a sham!” I interrupted.  “We need to know that everyone understands what a white elephant is or I’m not doing it.”
“I think it has been explained since last time,” mom reassured me.
“Well, what are you bringing?  ‘Cause I’m not bringing something silly just to have it mocked again when nobody else brings stupid gifts,” I said.
“You could just bring candy,” mom suggested.
Good thought, mom.  I bought a package of peanut brittle and a package of peanut crunch.  If the person was allergic to peanuts, I’d simply tell them to grow a pair and that their allergy was made up.  Eat it!
Along comes the day of the reunion.  There are a whole lot of people who look similar to what I hope not to look like but fear is inevitable all in one room.  Yes, this is my family.  Tattoos are displayed, assault rifles are handled and, look, there’s even potato salad.  Thankfully, only a few regrettable remarks are made.  Contrary to what you might think, not a single drop of alcohol is available.  Pity.
“Gather round for the white elephant!” My Aunt Beck calls. 
Around the circle we go, each person picking out a gift.  Ms. Kitty and I only brought one gift, so I inform everyone that the gift she picked (a set of erasers; don’t be jealous) is all we’ll be taking. 
“Oh, go ahead,” implores Aunt Becky.  “I brought four extra.”  See!  Already, you’re breaking the rules!  Fine.  I approach the rather large grouping of bags with tissue paper spilling out and gaily-wrapped packages.  I ask, “Are all of these for the white elephant?” 
“Yes, yes,” comes a chorus of answers behind me.
“Are you sure all of these are for the white elephant?” I ask a little louder.
“Yes, they’re all for the white elephant,” I hear in response.
It should come as little shock that the first bag I pick up is joined by the rising voice of my Aunt Beck quickly informing me that, “That one’s not for the white elephant!”
“Am I talking to myself?” I ask, standing alone in the middle of the living room in front of a 15-ft Christmas tree with all eyes on me, hands in the air and head tossed back.  “Did no one hear me ask what was for the white elephant?”  A couple of my relatives make for the middle of the room to pull back gifts from my feet to the outskirts of the circle.  After all of the non-white elephant gifts have been pulled back, I select a gift that will surely join the erasers on a trip to Goodwill.
I’m already frustrated, despite being filled with holiday ham.
Other gifts are opened.  Most, including the stuffed Santa’s ass ornament and the Butt-head game are purchased from online “humor” sites.  No one takes anyone else’s gift, despite my Uncle Jimmy openly pining for the Santa ornament.  Everyone just goes around in a circle opening gifts that no one will keep. 
Then, the coupes-de-gras!  Aunt Becky selects the present that Ms. Kitty and I brought; lots of peanut candy.  She unwraps it and exclaims, “This is really nice!  This isn’t a white elephant gift.” 
Screw it, I’m done.


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