For more than a dozen or so years, Thanksgiving has meant more than gathering to give thanks and to eat a wonderful dinner. The completion of the dinner marks the beginning of the annual discussion to choose a theme for the upcoming Christmas Eve family grab bag. This has become about as difficult as choosing a Pope.
It all started years ago when we decided that a simple grab bag was a bit boring and predictable. It was nice, but still it lacked laughs and genuine surprises. So, we decided that we needed a gimmick and a catchy name for the event. So, the first year was the â€œAlphabet Christmas.â€ Each person had to buy a grab bag gift that began with the first letter of the giverâ€™s first name. It wasnâ€™t terribly creative, but it set the tone for future Christmases. Since that time, some of our themes have been:
â€œElvis Christmasâ€ (gifts relating to the King)
â€œWestern Christmasâ€ (Cowboy â€“ Indian â€“ gifts)
â€œChristmas on the Rockâ€ (jail-related gifts)
â€œNo Shit Christmasâ€ (each gift had to smell)
â€œHarriet Carter Christmasâ€ (we ordered about 12 Harriet Carter â€œMystery Boxesâ€)
â€œButt-Ugly Christmasâ€ (the ugliest gifts one could find â€“ it was a riot)
â€œName that Tune Christmasâ€ (gifts that collectively referred to a song title). My nieceâ€™s gift consisted of: two dice, a jar of Mrs. Dash spices, a cutting board and a flashlight. The song was Paradise Under the Dashboard Light. I was not quite so creative. My gift was a small Brookstone fan in the same box with a candle. The song: Candle in the Wind. Duh. It was a great deal of fun, particularly after a couple Christmas Eve pops.
â€œChristmas at the Beachâ€ (lots of summer gifts)
â€œSurvivor Christmasâ€ We did this, pre-9/11, when the show was hot. Each had to buy something that someone would really need if stranded on a desert island. I bought a shoebox full of miniature bottles of booze. There were a few toilet paper gifts, as I recall.
Each year, selecting the theme becomes more difficult, and this year required a few extra drinks to get everyone properly oiled to unleash the creativity. For a while, it appeared that we might come up dry. However, after a couple hours, we got it down to three possibilities:
â€œMafia Christmas.â€ This is not only fitting for a New Jersey event, but it also provided lots of gift possibilities.
The â€œEighth Dwarf Christmas.â€ Each person would have to buy gifts that would relate their choice of an Eighth Dwarf, and we would have to guess the identity of the dwarf. Some possibilities for the Eighth Dwarf were â€œSnotty,â€ â€œBoringâ€ or â€œUnwashed.â€ This one was my favorite, but the winner wasâ€¦..[drum roll, please]
â€œBill and Tedâ€™s Excellent Adventure Christmas.â€ So now, I have to buy some gifts that collectively relate to an event in history. Fortunately, I have a bit of time to think about it. Excellent, Dude.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.