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 “Alphabet Christmas.” Each person had to buy a grab bag gift that began with the first letter of the giver’s first name. It wasn’t terribly creative, but it set the tone for future Christmases. Since that time, some of our themes have been:
“Elvis Christmas” (gifts relating to the King)
“Western Christmas” (Cowboy – Indian – gifts)
“Christmas on the Rock” (jail-related gifts)
“No Shit Christmas” (each gift had to smell)
“Harriet Carter Christmas” (we ordered about 12 Harriet Carter “Mystery Boxes”)
“Butt-Ugly Christmas” (the ugliest gifts one could find – it was a riot)
“Name that Tune Christmas” (gifts that collectively referred to a song title). My niece’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.
“Christmas at the Beach” (lots of summer gifts)
“Survivor Christmas” 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:
“Mafia Christmas.” This is not only fitting for a New Jersey event, but it also provided lots of gift possibilities.
The “Eighth Dwarf Christmas.” 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 “Snotty,” “Boring” or “Unwashed.” This one was my favorite, but the winner was…..[drum roll, please]
“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Christmas.” 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.