504 Main by Holly Lefevre: Did Your Gift Lay An Egg?

12.15.2010

Did Your Gift Lay An Egg?

Those of you who have been hanging around here since last year may recognize this post. I wrote it last year around the same time. There is no GINORMOUS family Christmas for us...again...this year, so I am reliving it with this little gem of a story.

Writer's Workshop has a prompt this week, "A Gift that was not well received." Well, this is about an entire gift-giving experience...where no gift is well received.
Did Your Gift Lay An Egg?
When I dream about Christmas and family gatherings, I see perfectly wrapped packages, each selected with the utmost of care; a delicious meal; cousins, aunts and uncles greeting one another with hugs and kisses. When I arrive at the N family's Christmas Eve gathering, my reality is a far different...there are wrapped packages - not necessarily beautifully wrapped, there is food - a 6 foot burrito and oyster stew, and the cousins, aunts, and uncles are either greeted with a beer or "What the hell you been doin'?" (that's he PG version) How festive it that? Doesn't it just scream CHRISTMAS!?

Traditionally, when it was time for the gift exchange, Uncle Rocco would give each kid a silver dollar and tell them to “Stay on the straight and narrow.” (As if he had!). Then we would gather around the Christmas tree. In an attempt to prevent anyone from going broke buying presents for 50+ people, we had a rule: each family was to bring gifts for one other family. Well, that fell apart the year my aunt decided I did not need anything…explain that to an 8 year old. (yes, and that was Crazy Aunt M of the Chili Brie fame).

As we, the cousins, got older, the gift exchange wasn't working so well. In time, this tradition morphed and transformed until we were finally all able to come to an agreement...a white elephant exchange. Sounds simple...not if you are a member of my family!

Our white elephant's main rule was that the gift not be newly purchased. It could be new, but it had to be sitting-around-your-house-I-am-never-going-to-use-it-new. This worked for us. Of course there was trading..uh, stealing...of gifts, and we finally had to make up a specific rule for this as well. Oh you think I am kidding...on no less than three occasions, members of one family did not speak to members of another family for at least six months based upon the outcome of the gift exchange.

Along the way, gifts included some good, some bad, and some ugly. I once re-gifted Hilary Clinton's Book, It Takes A Village (I never read it and was not going to). The recipient was thrilled. So, see a thoughtful, useful (I guess) gift. Antique oil cans, old cameras, and boxes of hockey cards made their rounds, but then the game began to digress...or get really fun, depending on how you look at it. Over the next few years, the gifts became a mixture of half used toiletries, the contents of a junk drawer (I will admit that was me), and obscene T-shirts. Our little white elephant exchange had evolved into "Who could find the most useless or offensive gift?" 
(not my family...I bought them)


As a prelude to the best/worst-gift-ever-given at the N's Family Christmas, one year the grand finale was the rusted car door of a 1970's VW Bug. What a useful item, eh? I actually do not even remember who "won" that, but it caused a great roar and uproar!

So then next year, there had to be something bigger and better...and more useless. That night we all gathered around the tree, a tower of gifts awaited us. There were big ones, medium ones, and small ones. We picked numbers to determine order (remember rules!), and were ready to rock-n-roll! I could hear my three cousins snickering every time anyone would touch Cousin A's gift. It seemed safe...it was small...no matter what was in there, it could be easily disposed of...again it was small...how bad could it be?

Coming to the end of the exchange, we discovered Crazy Aunt M was last. And lo and behold, the only gift left is Cousin A's. She thinks about it...she could steal someone's gift and risk a family feud, or just take the small one, end the game, and go home...

She picks the small gift, and right on cue we hear "Cluck, Cluck, Cluck" and a chicken races into the family room - no, we do not live in the country (this is L.A. baby!), no this was not a pet...yes this was the gift...a live chicken. All I can say it that at least it was alive.

So, tell me...did you ever give or get a gift that was not well received?
Merry Clucking Christmas!
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13 comments :

  1. That's one of the weirdest christmas gift I heard being gifted.. I too am writing on this prompt this week.

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  2. Wow-I think we can all relate to that a little -great story-however it's done-it's never picture perfect!!!!

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  3. I can't believe the gift was a real chicken. We did a family gift exachange at Thanksgiving and my neice's husband got foot poweder. She made is worse by telling him he really needed it. Thankfully he laughed.

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  4. I couldn't come up with a story as crazy as this if I tried. And really, it was kooky enough at the point of a rusted car door.

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  5. Oh Holly that is incredibly interesting!! I have had some pretty odd gifts but that one takes the cake!!! :) My I ask what became of the chicken? I love how you wrote your about Christmas, you have a talent for writing my dear!

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  6. that is hilarious! i don't even know what to say! you have inspired me to write a post about a christmas gift i received once.... i will have to do that tomorrow!

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  7. Love this! I usually like my re-gifts, if they're not useful they're funny.

    One time I was obviously given a re-gift of Elizabeth Taylor's "White Diamonds" when I was the tender age of 7(From a friend's mom). Ever smelt how heavy and old-womanly that stuff is?

    There's a long line of broken things, too :D

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  8. This is great - I can't even touch this.

    The best I can come up with is my great-aunt who gave my cousin Bat Mitzvah thank you cards...for Christmas. Needless to say she would never have a need for them. PLUS we have her reaction on video and then her waving us over, one by one, to quietly inspect and laugh at the gift.

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  9. Oh my goodness! That is too funny!

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  10. Well Holly, once again, I so appreciate your writing skills. You have me hooked. :) This sounds CRAZY. lol...the most intense gift exchange I've heard of before. I would have to say that my Dad would have loved a chance to grab some of the antique oil cans. He collects that sort of thing and it would have been a big treasure for him!

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  11. Now my husband would have been absolutely thrilled with the chicken so long as it was a laying hen. He actually had one of his disappear a few weeks ago and I think he is still mourning the loss. lol So what happened to the chicken and where did it come from? Especially if the gifts were suppose to come from around your house???

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  12. This is so funny, Holly!! I like the rusty old car door the best! Althouh no doubt, there's a blooger out there who'd love it!!!

    I remember when I was at school, one of my friend's gave to another friend a botrtle shampoo for 'dull, greasy and lifeless hair'.......I don't think they were friends after that!!

    Here's to GREAT presents this year!!!

    Sarahx

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  13. I just did a post about the year I got men's flip flops for Christmas. I think the chicken has that beat hands down!
    Sherry

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