Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gag Me With a Gift!

Every family has its special holiday traditions. There’s the chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, or opening presents in pajamas, or attending a Christmas Eve candlelight service. But lately, I’ve been hearing some funny stories about the lesser-publicized part of the holidays: the gag gift.

Our family has one. By ‘ours’ I mean my brothers and I. Actually, we have two. The first is a small statue of Buddha. It’s a porcelain figurine from the equivalent of a Dollar General and it simply one of the ugliest things you’ve ever seen in your life. Little, half-naked children and hanging from the Buddha’s chest and the whole image is kind of creepy. My youngest brother gave it to my father as a last-minute gift. It’s all her had left from his allowance (likely having spent the rest on himself!).

The second gag gift is a small can of potted meat. Again, poor Dad was the recipient of this beauty. We bought it while grocery shopping during a holiday vacation in Hawaii. My father was nearly apoplectic over the cost of food there and with three kids, the bill quickly leapt into three digits. We figured slipping a can of unknown potted meat onto the belt couldn’t hurt. It’s still in circulation and we still don’t know what kind of meat it is!

For a while, there was a ten-year-old fruitcake that made the rounds, but the thing finally crumbled and was put out of its misery.

So every year, I open gifts from my side of the family with anticipation and a slight bit of trepidation. Will the Buddha be buried in my new Christmas cactus? Is there a can of potted meat in the gingerbread house? Or the pocket of my new robe? After all these years, we’ve had to become very creative in disguising the gag gifts and sometimes, they’re more fun to give and to receive than any high-ticket item from the mall.

What about you? Got any gag traditions in your clan?

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