Monday, December 13, 2010

Reindeer Games - Secret Santa and the Yankee Swap

I love Christmas time. Unfortunately, I am usually too busy to enjoy the season. I seem to parachute in a day or two before, and poof, it's gone like a rabbit in a Doug Henning magic act. There's just not enough time from Halloween to Christmas. And besides, our house still smells like pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving for cryin' out loud.

In spite of all that I need to do, I have been trying to be more purposeful in getting in the Christmas spirit. I started playing holiday music on Black Friday, but I have to admit, I switch it over to news radio every time I hear Madonna. It's like oil and water, Madonna and Christmas. I like traditional hymns like We Three Kings, even though they were not there when the real Jesus was born. It took me 30 years to discover the real words did not include "smoking on a rubber cigar." Next time I see my brother, I'm going to punch him in the nose for teaching me that. You have no idea how mad the blue-rinse widow was at midnight mass.

I am not PC - and I say "Merry Christmas" unless you have a "Bah Humbug" button - actually that doesn't stop me either. I guess if I was certain that someone was an atheist, I might say "Happy April Fools Day" - nah, I am more polite than that. If I know that someone is Jewish, then I say "enjoy your holidays" because I still don't know if it's Chan-UH-kah or Hah-NI-KAH. I wish that Adam Sandler's number wasn't unlisted - I am sure he knows. And what the heck - 8 days, that is very cool. It's easier to hit the target! I wonder why Christians didn't choose Chanukah - Hanukkah - whatever it is - for their own? We could have had a over week off!

We've already had a little snow here in Boston - and black-ice and major car accidents. Winter is here, and that makes me want to stay in and watch Home Alone I or II, The Santa Clause with Tim Allen, the original Grinch Who Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas or Jingle All the Way with the Governator. I even like DOA with Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan.

Holiday food is good: eggnog, shrimp, hot chocolate and ribbon candy - they are all my favorites. Diets are out the window - it's a time for a celebration! And don't forget regifting the fruit bread!

I don't get involved in all the hoopla over Christmas trees and Menorahs on public property. The only true symbol of Christmas is the creche. I think every church should put one up for the season. And I like Christmas lights - the more the merrier.

I even like shopping - just no money in the budget this year thanks to Dave Ramsey and President Obama.

And yes, I know that Christmas is just a made up Christian tradition - so are church buildings! Oh, and the fact that it falls on a pagan holiday. The pagans can go to h--l, I am celebrating Christmas on the 25th - besides it's a Federal Holiday - and so far the government has not completely ruined it. Hey - If you don't want to join me, most Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas day - you can have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Two Christmas traditions I do like are the Yankee Swap and Secret Santa. If you haven't done a Yankee swap, let me start by saying they are better than yard sales! You wrap up some junk you don't want, don't need, and wouldn't wish on your best friend, and then take your chances on giving it away. One guy I know wrapped up a broken lamp and another gave away an entire Laurance Welk CD collection.

Most folks set a dollar limit, and get a gag gift such as a miniature velvet Elvis or Bon Jovi CD. Each person attending chooses a number from one to the amount of folks at the swap. These are most often slips of paper in a basket. And no, this can't be the host's present. It has to be wrapped. It's Christmas, right?

Play starts with number one, who chooses from any present in the room, and opens it. Number 2 chooses an unopened gift, unwraps it and then decides to "keep it," or "swap it" for any opened gift in the room. Number 3 chooses an unwrapped gift and does the same, going through the numbers until all gifts are opened. At the end, Number one gets to swap or keep the gift they have. The official rules are HERE.

Just remember, it is not fair to buy a great gift for $10, when some slug brings a Deep Purple 8-Trac tape.

The Yankee Swap is good for a few laughs, and a good lesson for covetous Christians. If you hold on to a good gift, it usually gets confiscated in the swapping; circulating from one person to the next. If you get a bad gift that no one wants, you'll get to take it home. And number 1 gets to play God, choosing last, once all the gifts are opened. Now that's a real Christian dilemma.

As much fun as a Yankee Swap is, I like Secret Santa. You get to purchase a gift for someone, and they don't know who is buying it. It's a chance to be thoughtful and anonymous. Everyone that participates puts their name in a hat, and then everyone draws one name - this is the person that you'll buy a gift for. This is also a good exercise for Christians. Official Secret Santa tips HERE.

But there is a twist to the Secret Santa game. It's really the same game, but you don't put your name in, you simply choose someone in need, a co-worker that needs to know God, a poor family at church, a foster child, the child of a man or woman in prison - if you need more ideas, just Google "abandon children," "loneliness" or "Christian charities."

I like Angel Tree and Toys for Tots.

The only rules are that you remain anonymous, and give generously. It's pretty easy. And that's what I love about the Christmas season.


Unknown said...

Hanukkah and Chanukah are the same thing, basically the spelling with the "c" is the origonal spelling and the "h" spelling is the American version.

Tracy said...

I adore the Christmas season too. Project Angel tree has long been one of our favorites too