Monday, December 30, 2013

White Elephant Gone Wrong

I don't like white elephant (WE) gift exchanges. Yes, they may include laughter and good-natured teasing (I prefer bad-natured teasing), but they include the stress of finding the perfect gift. Plus, I don't believe in re-gifting trash. A box full of old magazines is not a good WE gift. No one wants it. Therefore, you are done with the exchange if you pick this gift, which is what happened to Husband.

My viewpoint is not shared with most people. One of those people is my stepmom who in recent years has included WE exchanges at our family Christmas. 

However, this year I was excited. If you have read my blog, you will know Husband is a saver. (We do not use the word hoarder.) We're also trying to get rid of stuff we no longer need. Husband also has friends that give him funny, ridiculous items that he saves. You can see how all this would add up to somehow already having the perfect WE gift. 

So there was hope. I'd already identified it - the velvet picture of a matador killing a bull. It is on the wall in my workout/yoga room, which somehow seems wrong to meditate in front of a sad, dying bull. Getting rid of it would be a double score. 

My request was denied. 

Find something else then, I told him. It shouldn't be difficult. He checks the attic and brings down some items - a broken incense burner, old golf clubs and some sort of rustic, bark-covered mallet. Hmmm. Then I notice the mallet has the words "Women Getter" etched in the handle. This will work. 

It would be even funnier if it's picked by my stepbrother Ryan. He is nice, handsome, gainfully employed, forty and not married. You can understand why Ryan needs a drink at our family gatherings surrounded by woman asking him personal questions.

So I wrap up the mallet, excited that we may have the best gift. And we do, except no one picks it because my nephew Alex decides to lay on top of the mallet for the entire gift exchange. When Husband or I try to coerce him into offering it up for exchange, he only wants it more, wrapping his body around it like a snake. Of course, no one is going to be the jerk who rips a gift away from the sweet five-year-old. And of course, there's an extra gift in the mix so no adult has to take it from him. 

As the exchange winds down, Husband is not pleased. It's a combination of anger at even offering the "Women Getter" combined with the fact a child is going to take it home. He tries to reason with Alex, but to no avail. His frustration is evident, but fortunately he realizes he's on the edge of looking like a jackass so he backs down.

We drive home, having wrapped up another chaotic, over-indulgent holiday with my family. I think we're done with the disappointing WE exchange. 

We are not. Husband's frustration is evident the next day. 

"What's a five year old going to do with the Woman Getter?" (Well, our daughter plays with squirt bottles, so I'm sure he'll figure out something.)

"Frank gave me that as a gift when I was single!" (Well, you shouldn't have put something you're emotionally attached to in a gift exchange.)

Though he didn't verbalize it, the insinuation was that it was pressure from me that caused him to offer up such a prized possession. 

"I hate white elephant gift exchanges." (Finally, something we agree on.)

So there you have it. My dislike of WE gift exchanges will continue. I hope if you participated in one you ended up with something awesome like a boob mug or bad toupee that you can regift at the next exchange. Sadly, I did not take a photo of the Woman Getter, so I can't share its awesomeness. I can, however, share the fine piece of artwork that remains upstairs. Don't be jealous.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Homestretch

Two weeks off, people. After today, it will be sixteen lovely days until I return to the world of meetings, projects and deadlines. Sixteen days. Christmas break is such a lovely perk to working in higher education. Those in the corporate world, feel free to brag about bonuses, profit sharing and the like. On your own blog, of course.

There are no big plans, other the the normal holiday family visits, which suits me just fine. Initially, I thought a few days would be spent painting the living room. It's embarrassing how long there have been drywall patches showing, but whatever. We have a baby. Nothing gets done. I've accepted it. However, Husband surprised me by having a painter take care of it last week. Hallelujah! Two days of freedom regained.

Now the home improvement snowball has started. New mantle for the fireplace. New vanity for the bathroom. Paint the hallway. Tile the backsplash. We'll be lucky if we get one done before spring.

We're also contemplating new furniture. With a 17-month old. We're idiots.

Chit chat aside, I'm really excited to watch Bean experience the hoopla. Yes, she was around last Christmas, but still in that loaf of bread phase. My expectations are higher now. Last night she finally noticed the presents and was enticed by the glittery ribbon. Husband was able to redirect her before she tore anything open. (I'm finding that's pretty much life with a toddler -- a "no" followed by redirect. All. The. Time.)

Above is this year's Christmas card. Happy holidays.