Yankee Swap

A reminder: This is Day Six of The Seven Days of Pricklesmas Contest. Details here!

After my parents, my sister, and I would enjoy our own carefully-choreographed gift unwrapping at our house on Christmas Day, we’d go to my grandparents’ house, where we’d meet up with my aunt, uncles, and cousins and tuck into our Big Sandwich. Then we’d go about the business of exchanging gifts with the rest of our family. This was a lovely tradition, though it was probably a lot of work for my aunt in particular, since she was buying and wrapping gifts on her three sons’ (my cousins’) behalf, even when they were well into their twenties and thirties. So it wasn’t exactly a surprise when my aunt eventually suggested that we end the tradition of exchanging.

But what did that leave us with, other than a six-foot sandwich and some (however-delicious) fishy Christmas Eve leftovers? Well, we still had a grab bag. When I’ve participated in grab bags in the outside world, the usual requirement is that the gifts cost somewhere between five and ten dollars. Our family’s grab bag had a one-dollar limit. This proved, well, limiting. The grabs usually included such treasures as kitchen sponges, rubber gloves, lottery tickets, ancient Andes mints or gum, and, from the truly lazy, a one-dollar bill. My grandmother insisted we add a Yankee Swap element to the proceedings, but since all the gifts were equally crappy, we’d end up with a pretty even exchange in the end.

One year, my sister and I made a last-ditch attempt to breathe some life into the experience and threw some gag gifts into the mix. I can’t remember what they were, but we wrapped them in lovely paper, each accompanied by a little joke or poem that the recipient would have to read to the group. Those who drew the gag gifts would have a chance to win the grand prize, a family pack of very special bathroom tissue. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Unfortunately, our family was less than enthused by our modifications. They moaned and groaned through the whole thing, failing to find enjoyment in any of it. We came to realize that not everyone’s sense of humor or idea of fun is the same (or even existent, ahem), and that’s their loss. So my sister and I admitted defeat and threw in the towel.

Well, she threw in a towel. I threw in some Andes mints.

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