Dirty Santa

Rats… I missed the only Christmas party I would have enjoyed going to this year. The last two years I didn’t have to go to any parties and of course that was the greatest gift of all. But this year I was actually looking forward to attending a party of local freethinkers. At the last minute I had to cancel; however, that’s not my story today.

I’m sorry to say that even though I loved most of the people, I never liked church Christmas parties. Frankly I don’t think anybody liked them, especially when they knew the pastor would be there and so they had to watch their language, drink only ginger ale, and refrain from making passes at each other’s partners.

You know, they never told me in seminary that I had to be an events planner. If they had, I would have reconsidered my “calling” a lot earlier. I hated cajoling people to come to our dinky affairs where I had to be the “life” of a the party if it got dull, which let’s face it, happens at most church parties.

In addition to insipid conversation and relentlessly religious music, we would play that stupid gift exchange game. You know the one I’m talking about. There are several names for it but I knew it as The Dirty Santa Game.

Now, the party I missed the other day had some cool gifts to swap around: wine, chocolates, and even a telephoto camera lens (ok, it was a mug that looks like a lens–but it was still cool). Whereas our church parties always had some pretty lame stuff. One year there were crocheted potholders, pickled quail eggs, and five-year-old re-gifted cologne that was good for killing fire ants.

The biggest problem was that somebody always got mad when they didn’t understand the rules and didn’t get the gift they wanted. Every year we tried to explain the rules clearly, to no avail.

One year, a friend of mine did his best to explain the procedure. He swore to me later he didn’t know how it sounded:

“Let’s say Bob brought some nuts,” he began in his earnest Texas drawl. “Stella pulls out Bob’s nuts but doesn’t want em… you understand so far? So she puts Bob’s nuts back and trades them for say… Hank’s banana… okay? Now, she can hold onto Hank’s banana until someone else wants to take it from her…”

I’m not making this up, folks

It wasn’t long before Stella got mad when someone took Hank’s banana from her but she couldn’t go back for Bob’s nuts—that was against the rules. She pouted for the rest of the evening until she settled for Andy’s summer sausage.

That year I didn’t like my present either but I decided to re-gift it. I’m still waiting for the right occasion because I’m sure someone will want Dave’s dried figs.

Anyway, merry Christmas y’all.

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