Dreaming Of A White Elephant Christmas

My family is pretty lazy at Christmas. No one buys gifts anymore because we're too unmotivated to figure out what everyone else wants. We just show up on Christmas hoping no one has gotten us anything so we won't have to feel bad about not reciprocating. This year we decided to do away with the no-gift awkwardness and had our first White Elephant gift exchange. This way those who wanted to participate would only have to buy one gift.

If you haven't participated in White Elephant, the way it works is that everyone contributes a gift (ours were under $20) and draws numbers. Number one gets to pick any gift and opens it, and number two can either pick a new gift or steal number one's. The last person can choose from everything. What usually happens is at the end people barter for what they really want and everyone goes home fulfilled.

I was getting nervous because not only had I draw the last number but my gift wasn't getting picked. Maybe it was the ugly 80's gold and red striped wrapping paper or the lumpy masking tape trim. I started having flashbacks to elementary school where my gifts, wrapped in the same ugly paper, were always the last to get chosen. I worried that I'd have to go home with my own gift because I was a shitty gift wrapper and that no one would want my grab bag from the Infinite Garage! My god, I was suppose to unload!

Towards the end I was relieved that my cousin Argus picked my gift--  two Chinese scrolls, wooden fish with faux jade, and two bamboo hangers with Chinese writing. There was no better family for my gift for Argus' family is the most Chinese-y of our clan. Their mom is a staunch Chinese cultural nationalist and their dad is a direct descendent of "the father of modern China" Dr. Sun Yet-Sun. They celebrate the lunar holidays, practice calligraphy, hate the Japanese, and speak real Mandarin and not Chinglish like the rest of us, who can barely order beef noodle soup in a restaurant.

Here are the Suns with my goods.

Below, rest of us holding our loot. I'm jealous of Patty for getting the wine opener but was happy to get the exotic raspberry wine from Michigan. Someone even got a baby for Christmas! 

I wished I could participate in a White Elephant every month. Infinite White Elephant! After all, I have enough goods for it. I could get cool stuff in exchange for my weird, old stuff. That's my dream, but I know I'd probably just get more fruit-shaped coasters or colored paperclips. 

I was thinking next year I should host our family White Elephant at my house. Except my family won't have to come with gifts, they could just pick something out of my garage. It would be very recessionista or Chinese frugal, with or without the recession. Of course, this is just part of my ploy to get people to help me unload stuff. 

Bag of Gem Rings

Yesterday I opened a box of valuables. Birth and death papers, wedding bands, anniversary earrings, jade buddha pendants, corroded watches, and coral necklaces. At the end of the long box lay a foggy plastic bag of copper gem rings, the kind you buy at the drugstore counter. Amethyst, citrine, aquamarine, rose quartz and sapphire they were not. But holding them in my hand they sparkled like stars that were on their way to burning out. It seemed absurd that my mother stored toy rings alongside her real ones. To her it seemed as if real didn't matter and these were just as special.

If you like rings, check out the famous ring sweater...
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