For the past 15 years, my college roommate, Mindy, and her husband, Rick, have thrown a White Elephant party, which has nothing to do with the makeup of the Republican party. ;)
It’s a gift exchange where you usually trade funny, impractical gifts. It’s also known as a Yankee Swap or a Dirty Santa (never heard of that one although I do know another kind of Dirty San thing and in my opinion, it’s not a gift.)
Over the past ten years, I’ve gone to this party twice for various reasons, but this year, no matter what, I was going.
Last summer I saw Mindy twice in six weeks. You would think that was good given that it takes us about three hours to get to each other’s homes. But those visits were for very sad reasons. She lost her parents within six weeks of each other. Heartbreaking to say the least, so this time I wanted to be with her for a happy occasion.
Now I knew that going to bed by 9:00 p.m. (part of this month’s self-care challenge) was going to be out of the question, so I went up early and lucky for me, I got to spend some one-on-one time with Mindy. Self-care Win #1!
They were also doing a healthy cooking demo. Self-care Win #2, but I wound up talking to Mindy and missed 80% of it. Self-care Fail #1. BUT spending time with Mindy was my priority, so Self-care Win #2 wins out!
One of Mindy’s good friends who I’ve known as long as I’ve known Mindy told me she was going to leave before the white elephant part of the party and offered me a ride to the train station if I wanted.
I told her I might take her up on it. If I left early, I might get in bed around midnight. Not bad.
She sent me the train schedule. I called her an instigator. She told me she prefers to be called an “advocate” because she was doing it for my self-care. I appreciated that, but still felt guilty and then she asked, “What would Laverne do?”
Laverne would bust out of there.
Laverne wouldn’t follow the rules.
Laverne would do as she damn well pleased.
I’m a lot like Laverne in terms of my goofy spirit (always getting into a pickle) and aspire to be like her more rebellious side, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
I was tempted by the offer to leave early, but ultimately said no. It was one of the few times I didn’t experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I really wanted to stay to spend time with Mindy and some of our mutual friends. Self-care Win #3.
Rick deftly handed me a high number for the white elephant game, which improved my chances of getting a really good gift and the game was on.
Over 50 people squeezed into their living room spilling over into the home office and dining room eagerly watching people unwrap all kinds of valuable and nonsensical gifts.
I saw people open presents like a Nicholas Cage prize back, elephant footie pajamas, a sweatshirt of a hairy man’s chest and more. Those got laughs, but the hottest item going was an Echo Dot. So popular, in fact, that three people brought them.
Given that I’m paranoid about devices listening to me, that gift held no interest for me. I had my eyes on the homeopathic massager. I thought that would be the best self-care gift I could get for my aching back (Hello, altacocker!). I watched it get traded in a few times and wasn’t sure where it landed.
Then, it was my turn to pick something. I asked for the massager only to learn it had hit its limit on being traded. Damnit!
There was a vibrator floating around, which would definitely qualify as self-care, but I decided to pass.
Then, I decided to See ya, Bucko (let it go) and open one of the few remaining gifts. I ripped it open to see what other potential self-care item might be underneath and was instantly horrified.
Staring back at me was the last gift I ever would have wanted. I would have taken anything over this. I live in one of the most liberal cities in the U.S. and this gift should never set foot in my NYC apartment.
It was a board game about the Trump Border Wall. Self-care Fail #3.
That is a YUGE Self-care Fail or as he would say, FAIL!
I should have asked not only who paid for, but who gave, this “gift.” I wondered who, lurking among us, would give such a present. Then again, maybe it was regifted in which case, I applaud them for giving it away, but I barely wanted to touch it.
As a consolation prize, I was given a choice between mini bottles of booze and essential oils. While both could fall under the “Self-care” umbrella, I opted for the latter. Self-care Win #4. I’m an Italian Jew. We’re not known for being drinkers. We’re eaters. Case in point, I got another consolation prize from my ride home - some yummy sea salt caramels. My favorite!
Do I regret any of my decisions?
Am I glad that I stayed?
Without a doubt. I got to spend time with one of my closest friends, make her smile and do what my heart wanted to do - be there for her no matter what.
Would Laverne have done the same?
Absolutely. Laverne was always there for Shirley. She wouldn’t leave her side when she needed her and this Laverne will always do the same for her Shirley. And we’ll do it our way, yes, our way.
What would you have done in this situation? What are your self-care tips? Do you consider yourself more of a Laverne or a Shirley? Tell me below!