I Love Getting Presents, Don’t You??

My dear friend and blogger Laura from Hey Mom What’s For Dinner? coordinated a White Elephant gift exchange this year for her readers and fellow bloggers.

I love getting presents, don’t you?  Especially when there is such a mystery surrounding it.  Traditionally, a White Elephant exchange is where people bring a gift of a small monetary value or something very silly or fun to a party and everyone pulls a number out of a bowl that corresponds to a gift.  Many complicated games have been developed out of this simple concept, some of them quite cutthroat!  This particular White Elephant was just for fun and the added bonus of getting a treat  in the mail during the holidays besides a flood of gorgeous cards, and the bills.   Oops, bill is a 4-letter word!

Ever wonder why they are called White Elephant gifts?  I was curious when a non-native English speaker asked me about it and did a little research.  It goes back to the Far East where elephants are prevalent.  During the days of monarchs in every country in the East, and in some parts still, elephants were an important part of the home and labor force.  The ability to own and maintain an elephant are reserved for the more wealthier residents, with some exceptions in the more remote parts of the countries. They are intelligent and feeling beings and were revered, and treated very well on the most part.  Elephants were used to haul goods and labor in forestry and fields and for transportation.  But no matter your level of wealth or use for the elephants, the white elephant was considered sacred and reserved for royalty.  The legend of the White Elephant gift was supposedly when a monarch became displeased with one of his minions and gave him a white elephant.  The gift, seemingly munificent, was actually meant to be a punishment for the hapless minion, as the upkeep and care of the sacred elephant was far beyond his means and his inability to care for the gift shamed him and the entire family.  Over time, this tale resulted in the term White Elephant gift as one that was silly or irrelevant, and then over time became something more fun for a gift exchange.  In England, it was common for small villages to have White Elephant jumble sales, where each household would contribute an unwanted item for the jumble, of mishmash, of items for sale, the proceeds of which usually benefited the parish church or some other worthy cause.  One of my favorite depictions of this a White Elephant jumble was in the Mapp and Lucia books by E.F. Benton.  If you haven’t read them you are in for a treat; they are perfect books to curl up with a candy cane after Christmas.

Back to our White Elephant gift exchange, my name was drawn by Amy of Keeping up with the Schultz Family fame.  Amy has the cutest blog about her family, their cooking and crafts and it is a lot of fun to read.

I trekked to the Post Office to pick up my parcel and it was a rectangular box, curiously heavy.  It was so entertaining to guess what was inside and even more fun to open!   I must confess that I had to open my lovely box on Sunday as the reveal day is today and I left for the parental manse shockingly early on Monday morning.  Although I intended to bring the gift with me, after loading my roller duffle with Christmas gifts (unwrapped, groan), cards, wine, food items and, oh yeah, some clothes, it weighed probably 75 pounds and I hadn’t even packed my toiletries yet.  Yegads!   So, I succumbed to the lure of temptation and opened my gift Sunday night with the help of a hefty glass of Ravenswood Zinfandel 2007 (my new house wine, by the way).

Holding my breath and feeling a bit naughty (sorry, Santa) I opened the box and out flooded an incredible assortment of goodies!  And they were all for me!!  Amy had thoughtfully packed this box full of wonderful treats, each with a little note on darling little pig-shaped papers.  Guess Amy knows how I feel about pigs, and bacon!  Yay Bacon!   I received a great Paula Deen cookbook that I don’t have, and another book for fun reading and three bars of gorgeous soap from Provence.  How did you know that I love Provencal soaps? And that I am currently out?  But no more!  Also in the box was a beautiful photo album, to honor my mom, and which made me cry.  Again, I must state that the best Christmas present I have ever received was that I get to celebrate this Christmas, and every other special occasion, with my mom this year as she is cancer-free and feeling great.  Upon seeing Amy’s thoughtful note I just dissolved, had my moment, recovered with some wine and came back to the fun of opening presents.  Let’s see, there was a fabulous treat that I cannot wait to break into of  a foot spa bag with fizzy tablets to soak tired tootsies, exfoliant creams, lotions and various potions and those cute things to keep your toes apart when you polish them.  Again, how did you know I needed those!  There was also a neat sample of facial products for polishing and perfecting your skin.  Anyone who has met me knows how I love to pamper my skin and all of these gifts were just so thoughtful.  There was also some treats for the holidays, some delicious coffee and cocoa mix, and the cutest photo magnet shaped like a Christmas ornament.  I can’t wait to fill it with a picture of me and my family from this Christmas.

Thank you Amy, for putting together such a bounteous assortment of treats for me, I feel so pampered and they were all so thoughtful.  I will think of you and your family throughout the year as I use and enjoy them.

I wish I had a picture to share with you but you know how it is when you are trying to pack and also make sure the house is clean just in case the mayor comes into your apartment when you are gone, or something like that.  I rather failed on putting everything in order or taking a picture of my lovely gift from Amy but at least I remembered to pack the essentials.  Except for the CD with the Run DMC Christmas song, dang it…

We are busy here with the Christmas preparations, and my sister arrives tomorrow!  The tree is up and half-decorated, boxes of ornaments, bows and decorations strew the living room as if the North Pole sneezed and it all landed here.  But prettier, naturally!  The mantle is aglow with pretty votives, a garland and our beautiful Christmas stockings that “Santa” fills for each of us.  The new Baroque style crèche is arranged in front of the mirror Gothic panels, the David Winter cottages are on full display with a winter scene, the traditional crèche from my childhood is in the family room with a miniature live and fully decorated Christmas tree, and there are more boxes to unpack!  Outside wreaths decorate the house and door and the twinkling multicolored lights dangle from the eaves.  I wish we could leave the Christmas lights up all year-round.  Last night, lying in bed, I watched the light shimmer through the curtain and just tried to remember what it was like Christmas eve when I was a child.  My mom told us  stories about how one year her uncles were visiting for Christmas, a rarity during wartime, and even more rare that this particular year they were not living in Navy housing.  She and her cousins were in bed and pretending to be good and sleep when they heard hooves on the roof!  And the neighs of reindeer!   It was all they could do to stay in bed and not rush outside to peek, but they had been warned that severe repercussions would result if they watched Santa deliver their Christmas gifts.  Of course, it was the uncles on the roof with coconut shells making hoof noises and whinnies.  Such a precious memory.

I will be back writing after the holiday.  Meantime, please hug your families and be glad you get to celebrate Christmas with them.  I would like to thank all the service men and women who are fighting for our freedom and safety across the world.  In particular, I would like to thank my friend Joe, who is near Bagram, he is a very brave man doing his duty, and I hope he gets to come home soon to his parents and sister, and his friends!  Thank you Joe, and Merry Christmas!
Joe in Bagram

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3 responses to “I Love Getting Presents, Don’t You??

  1. YEAH you got it!! Love this post too. OK because you say nice things about me but also your writing is really sounding awesome these day. Love your style!

    Love and hugs to you and yours. Merry Christmas Heather I’m so glad we met and are friends.

  2. Yeah I am so glad you got it and enjoyed it.. I am now following you in google reader..

    Have a great Christmas…

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