Every Christmas, we have a "discussion" in our house about the annual Sandbar gift exchange.
It all started because one year Dave hung a sign at the bar, announcing the gift exchange. He called it a white elephant gift exchange, but also put a dollar amount on it (no more than $10). For the next week, I fielded all sorts of calls from his employees, well the girls anyway, asking what he meant. "Is this really white elephant?" "Am I supposed to buy a gift or bring something crappy that’s laying around my house?" "What’s he talking about?"
I explained to Dave that "white elephant" traditionally means that you bring something from home as a gift- something ugly that your grandma gave you, or something you got from last year’s office party, or regifting something that you just don’t want. By putting the dollar limit on the sign, people thought that they were supposed to buy a new gift, which is not the meaning behind white elephant.
We argued about it, because he insisted that "white elephant" means the gift exchange game where the first person opens a gift, then the second person either opens a new one or steals the first one, and so on. I equally vehemently insisted that this game is NOT white elephant.
This went on for a couple years. Every year he’d tell people "white elephant, $10 limit," and again I’d take phone calls from people who didn’t know if they were supposed to buy something new or regift something old. A couple times people have been visibly embarrassed at bringing something truly "white elephant," when others brought obviously newly purchased items. We talked about it again last year, and I thought that I finally got through to Dave that he should either call it white elephant, OR put the dollar amount, but not both.
A few weeks ago, I met Dave at the bar for lunch one day and saw the darn sign hanging up again: white elephant, $10 limit. Apparently he and Danny had decided it would be funny to hang it up and wait for me to say something. They got their money’s worth. We had yet another discussion about how he needed to word the gift exchange announcement. Then they turned over the sign, and showed me the REAL announcement, which just read "gift exchange, $10 limit."
Funny, guys, real funny.
I have to admit, however, that we were both right in a way. After checking Wikipedia, the online answer for everything, I found that the gift exchange game of stealing another person’s present actually is referred to as "white elephant," which I had never heard. However, other websites that I found also stated that "white elephant" gifts are generally gag gifts or items you have lying around the house. The stealing-of-the-gifts game is also called "Yankee Swap" or "Chinese gift exchange" or "Dirty Santa."
So I guess I have to admit that Dave wasn’t entirely wrong. But only when he admits that I wasn’t wrong either. And hey, I walked off with a jug of Tide last year which made me perfectly happy.
It’s better when it’s a mix of new stuff and wierd stuff. But people usually fight over the wierd stuff….. or the booze.