King of White Elephants

Our Christmas Eve tradition involves the typical fare: excessive food, do-it-yourself gingerbread construction, lots of family and friends, and a white elephant gift exchange. For several years, the gift exchange has developed into a war of attrition to see who can bring that one wonderfully terrible gift which is simultaneously appalling, clever, and hilarious. One year, it was a box of potatoes. The next, a 3 foot tall plastic doll accompanied with a bottle of root beer, which was supposed to be a "date." (I ended up with that one...everyone thought it was quite funny -- I humored them.)

Last year's winner was from my brother. He gave, in a very elegant brushed stainless steel frame and signed "Best Wishes", a black and white version of his senior picture. Audacias? Yes. Completely worthless? Yes. Best gift ever? Yes. The fact that it landed in the hands of a recently married 19 year old woman? Priceless.

But, by far, the best gifts are the ones that last from year to year: this is "re-gifting" elevated to the sublime. The plastic doll was one of those. And, in a great irony, my brother's narcissistic picture survived the year in someone's trunk to again be passed around the white elephant circle and land in the hands of my brother's wife -- who is, in all honestly, the only person that might enjoy it.

We all thought that was the coup de grace; the gift of the year, until we we saw this year's gift from my brother, the following weighty tome:

Bryan, you are king of the White Elephants.