Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dirty Santa: Can't we all just get along?

Dirty Santa can be so much fun! Coming into it with the right Christmas spirit, that is stealing from your closest friends or family and its all legal are the hallmarks of this tradition. However, in my 55 years, I have seen some real disasters!!

For those of you unfamiliar with this game, the tradition is to bring a wrapped gift, put all the gifts in a pile, draw numbers and then whoever has number 1, opens a gift. Whoever has number 2 can either take the gift from number 1 or open a new gift from the pile. Stealing is legal. Don't forget that it is supposed to be fun.

I'll never forget the year we went to our first neighborhood party. We didn't know very many people and wanted to put into practice, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." We brought our mandatory $10 ornament. Then came time to draw the numbers for the big game. Being new and naive, we didn't know there was a neighborhood bloc and I don't mean "block." Turns out there was a group that would look at the numbers as they drew them and made sure they got the higher numbers that would be picked at the end so they could build alliances and walk out with all the best stuff. There was lots of collusion among these folks that made "love thy neighbor" a REAL challenge.

The next year I was elected president of the neighborhood association. It had nothing to do with popularity. I wasn't even at the meeting where the "election" took place. But one of the perks of the position was getting to run the Dirty Santa at the next Christmas party. Ha! They didn't know who they were dealing with. I showed up with all the numbers. Sure enough, the old bloc was up to their old tricks and got all the high numbers. But they sadly underestimated the skills of their president. I showed up with a SECOND set of numbers from which to draw. In other words, we didn't go in numerical order, we DREW to see who went next. Double Ha!! because none of the alliances worked because everyone was off kilter that year. We walked out with a pretty good gift if memory serves me correctly. Even better, it was a little easier to show the love.

My sister-in-law has told me some real horror stories of going to her husband's Dirty Santas at his families houses. I think stitches and visits to the emergency clinic were involved because people got so angry and started accusing each other of stealing. Talk about dysFUNctional.

In my own family we play Dirty Santa. We seem to have trends. There was the year that the hot item was the casserole dish with handy dandy carrying case. The next year, there were three of them added to the mix. But that was so LAST YEAR and no one wanted the lowly casserole dishes anymore. Then there was the year that my grandmother picked batteries. When one of the grandsons tried to steal her batteries she gave the hairy eyeball look. Whoops. The grandson made a hasty retreat. And yes, you guessed it , there were loads of batteries brought the following year and my grandmother could have cared less. Another year was the roadside emergency kits. You could tell that there were a lot of parents of 16 year old drivers in the room who had visions of their children off in the ditch with no way to get help. The only problem is that the 16 year old drivers didn't have the same concerns and those roadside kits languished. Then because my brothers are all in construction there are loads of tools.

In another group I belong to we also play Dirty Santa. We have some crazy folks that will put on anything and I mean anything. Antlers. Red noses. Big Santa underpants. No, there wasn't any immodesty in the group. Picture the underpants pulled OVER the clothes because they were so big. Nothing distasteful, just funny. There also seemed to be a trend for a while of who could bring the best angel because angels were the item that got the most attention. We also have family blocs in this group who can gang up together. This family is usually mild mannered, but you get a whole passel of them in the room together and they go from Dr. Jekkyl to Mr. Hyde. All in all, this entire group has the most fun stealing and feelings never get hurt because we enjoy laughing and being silly.

I hope you and yours enjoyed playing Dirty Santa. And don't forget that stealing is supposed to be fun.

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