Every Christmas eve my family hosts a White Elephant gift exchange. What once started out as a fun way for adults not to over spend on holiday gift exchanges has now become the highlight of the evening. The problem though, the kids want to be involved as well. I had invited a friend to come spend the evening with my family and she wondered what would happen if the kids picked up a gift that included alcohol. “Their parents will take the gift, or find a way for one of the older-legal kids to make an exchange. There wasn’t much worry this year as the younger kids worked for gifts they wanted. For the doll that gift was a candy dispensing machine with a large bag of m&m’s included.
“Please mommy, please? If someone steals this would you please exchange this back for me?” the doll begged. “No” I replied. The last thing I want in my house is a candy machine. Shoot I want to lose weight in the new year, not add temptations. “PUULLEEEEASE Mommy. If you do, you’ll be the best mommy ever!!” “No.” I replied again; chuckling at her bribe for something that was already true. “You’re being mean MOM!!” the doll said in an attitude laced voice. “Yeah well…if the shoe fits…” I said under my breath.
I had the second to last number, 34. The doll had to sit through 25 picks hoping and praying no one would notice the candy dispenser. “Mom, it’s not fair. Nathan has two numbers. He didn’t use it the first time, but he will this time I’m sure of it”. She said offering a more pressing reason why I should help her keep the dispenser. Nathan, her older cousin must have overheard her plea because when his next turn arrived, he swiped it from her. A look of despair crossed her face. Instead of grabbing a more coveted prize to use as leverage, dejected she picked a gift no one wanted: a pair of “Christmas Story pink bunny with footed pajamas” made for an adult. “What were you thinking?” I asked her. “What? I think they’re cute”.
The moment of truth had arrived. I looked over at the doll and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry” and moved to steal the most coveted item in the exchange, a framed photo of my mother’s Senior class picture. Of course I didn’t have that long, as the cavalcade of swiping caused by my action began. When all was said and done, I was once again empty handed and looking for a gift. I tried to avoid the candy dispenser, instead picking a bag which contained a nice bottle of Bailey’s. “Ooh, car bombs on New Year’s eve!” I said holding a big smile on my face. Until that is the last person began a string of swipes which once again left me empty handed. I looked over at the doll and swiped the candy from Nathan. Upon retrieving the dispenser, the doll grabbed the goods and left the room–leaving nothing to chance that anyone could swipe it from her again.
“Mommy, you really are the best mommy ever!” the doll said as she leaned in to give me a thankful hug. “You’re preaching to the choir doll, preaching to the choir…” I said in return. “Huh? What’s that mean?” She asked. “Never mind.”
Postscript: I heard I was the greatest ALL day on Christmas except when she didn’t get her way. What does that tell you of her perceptions of me…? Oh and MY dispenser has been placed into HER bedroom, fully loaded and operational. “Doll, where’s my candy machine?” I ask. She never looks up, however, the her tongue wiggles inside her mouth as if trying to hold back a smile or laugh. Uh huh….