12 Days of Christmas

(or 12 learnings of the last 24 hours or so)

1. A Yankee Swap–for a party or group meeting, each person brings an inexpensive, wrapped gift. The gifts are sometimes numbered. Each person draws a number at random. If the gifts are numbered they are distributed singly, beginning with #1. If not, Person #1 chooses a gift to open. When the proceedings move on to Person #2, he or she may keep Present #2 or swap for Present #1. And so forth. Obviously, it’s better to have a higher number, as you have more choices. At the very end, however, Person #1 gets the pick of everything.

2. People often bring presents they didn’t like to a Yankee Swap.

3. Sometimes that includes stale candy.

4. The Princess came with me. As it was her first Yankee Swap, she did not know the stale candy rule. There was no polite way for me to warn her.

5. Candles are very popular at Yankee Swaps.

6. Angels are very popular items at Yankee Swaps, particularly when they are also bells.

7. A 10-year-old girl (who drew #3) is likely to want her mother (who went last save for #1 at the very end) to trade for the angels that are also bells.

8. But her mother, who is not only the pastor but also a kind-hearted person, seeing the disappoinment of the mentally handicapped adult daughter of a Guild member at getting three homemade candles, and presently in possession of a tin of Winnie the Pooh cookies from the Disney store, will likely swap for the candles, thereby teaching 10-year-old-girl that we sometimes sacrifice at the Yankee Swap.

9. A 10-year-old girl has it in her to be a good sport and to enjoy smelling the fragrant and colorful homemade candles with enthusiasm shortly after spitting out the stale strawberry cream.

10. A dark blue candle with the fragrance “Christmas Essence” and a yellow-orange candle with the fragrance “Frankincense” make nice additions to the nativity set on the mantelpiece, especially when arranged there by a 10-year-old girl.

11. Retired ladies bring better food to potlucks than busy working women. This particular group has a tradition of “reckless” potlucks, in which no one signs up ahead of time. They nearly fainted dead away when the pastor arrived with a hot pan of nachos prepared in her own kitchen.

12. Although we got to bring home the rest of the nachos (which #2 Son polished off after school today), we also ended up with two containers of egg rolls and half a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It remains to be seen whether these last will be consumed.

13 thoughts on “12 Days of Christmas”

  1. What a great explanation: now I get it, but down here it’s called a White Elephant Swap. No, I can’t explain that!
    It sounds like a wonderful time was had by all–maybe especially the Princess.
    Eggrolls and fried chicken: YUM! Pass the wine.

  2. White elephant here, too. And I love “reckless” potlucks! St Stoic had its first in years, this Advent, at my urging.
    I told them, “If Jesus can feed 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes, we can feed 50 Presbyterians wth a few pots of baked beans!” It was gorious to see what the offerings were, and a real testament to their flexibility!

  3. How odd cause we have always called it a Chinese Christmas exchange.
    And I am liking your Princess more and more.

  4. White Elephants are so called because in days of yore (or at least in the India of those days) they were sacred but clearly a bit of a drain on the finances. So they were a very unwelcome gift and if one rajah wanted to ruin his neighbour, he would give him a white elephant. It had to be treated with care and courtesy, so the only way to get rid of it was to hand it on…Here we have “White Elephant stalls” at parish fetes…selling just the sort of unwanted kitsch that features in a swap, clearly.
    As to “reckless pot luck” I had assumed that the process was by definition pretty reckless…Once you have a sign up sheet, so you know in advance what is coming, doesn’t it become a “bring and share”?? or are those different again, or unknown by that title.
    2 nations divided by a common language 😉

  5. Some potlucks here have minimal instructions, perhaps three categories assigned to different sections of the alphabet: main course, dessert, salad. But I have to agree that the word suggests recklessness, so I always object to being assigned a category and often break the rules. (Seriously, I do. Who knew I was such a revolutionary?)

  6. Jane Dark, she does seem very grown up compared so some of her peers. And she’s tall. Not outrageously tall, but tall compared to her mother and brothers. #1 Son is about 5’8″; #2 is still growing but probably won’t be much taller than that; she may catch them.

  7. Oh, we just had the most fun white elephant exchange at our orgnaizations Christmas party. I got rid of our ceramic White Jesus Welcomes the Anemic Children and ended up with CDs of Brazilian classical music and Ricky Martin! Someone ended up with a CD of Russian funeral music.

  8. Okay, now I recognize it. Down here, it’s called “Dirty Santa”, and there’s quite a bit of competition for the best presents.

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