So, we decided on a white elephant last night with a group of friends that I meet with every week. So, today I am thinking about white elephants.
For those of you who don’t know what a white elephant is, contrary to what you’d be led to believe, it is not this:
but something a bit more like this:
A Christmas “White Elephant” is a gift exchange where people bring any gift that they want – it could be something nice, something awful, something laying around the house, etc. Everyone puts their gifts into a big pile, then they all choose a number. Number 1 chooses a gift first and opens it in front of everybody. Then, Number 2 opens their gift. This sounds like a normal gift exchange, but the fun is that Number 2 can choose to either keep her gift or take Number 1’s gift if she thinks that looks nicer. So, inevitably, there is a lot of laughter and hiding and screeching and squalling during this game. People are trying to hide and protect the coveted gifts, while others are just hoping that someone wants whatever bizarre or disgusting thing they ended up with. It is always a lot of fun. I used to do this with my youth group every year growing up, but tonight I was thinking about one of the most fun white elephants that I have done.
We were in Senegal in the summer of 2010, and I was teaching an English course. One of our lessons we decided to do on Christmas. We were going to teach some of the cultural aspects of Christmas, and I decided it would be fun to do a white elephant with our students. So, we told them to bring presents and prepare for the game, but sadly only one student brought a gift. That left us scrambling at the last minute to come up with anything and everything we could before class started. We ended up with gifts like an American dollar in a box, a bottle of sand, a bottle of sunscreen, and a few other odds and ends from our luggage of things we ended up not needing.
That white elephant ended up being hilarious. I think that the most coveted gift was the sunscreen, which people kept hiding and claiming they didn’t have (though they did have white smears on their necks, which were quite obvious due to the color of their skin!) Why sunscreen was so exciting I will never know, especially when the person who finally ended up with it had to come and ask what it was for after the party ended. That white elephant is one that I hope I’ll always remember. It was a good memory, even if it was in June, in 100+ degree weather, surrounded by sand.
Do you have any white elephant stories? I’d love to hear them!!