Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...Our office had its yearly Christmas luncheon today. This is confined to employees only and should not be confused with our annual Christmas Party where we invite all of our clients, friends and family. We typically have everyone out at a restaurant for food and drink and a Chinese Gift Exchange.
We all know how the Chinese Gift Exchange works... everyone brings a gift and throws it onto a table. Typically, there is a spending limit so each gift is comparable in value. Each participant is assigned a number and the first person selects a gift off the table and unwraps it. The next person can either steal the first person's gift or select a new one from the pile.
If your gift is stolen, you then have the option to either steal from another person or select a new gift from the pile. Each gift can be stolen up to three times. Once the last gift is unwrapped, the original person has the final move and can either keep his or her gift or exchange it with one of the unwrapped gifts.
The first time that I had ever played this game was when Cheryl worked for a real estate company. The office hosted a party and had everyone bring a small git for the Exchange. About sixty people participated. One guy, in particular, really got under my skin. Of course, it could not have been some random agent or a receptionist. No siree... this guy was the owner of the company.
He was an older gentleman that had done quite well for himself and probably could have purchased all of the gifts at the party with the change he found in the seats of his car so none of these gifts was going to make or break his Christmas season. Well, this guy selected early and chose from the pile one of the gifts that Cheryl had brought to the party... a couple of decorative boxes to hold VHS tapes and a few blank tapes for recording family memories (it was back in the day, before iPhone cameras... I know I am dating myself but at the time, everyone used VHS tapes).
Anyway, this guy did not care for his gift selection and spent the next several rounds whining and complaining about his gift. He did not stop until a friend of Cheryl's relieved him of the boxes.
Happily, he stole a large nutcracker.
Then he was happy and spent the next several minutes advising everyone of how happy he was to be done with those silly boxes. He was also confident in the knowledge that none of his employees would make a final steal on this nutcracker. He was sure that things were going to work out just fine for him and his nutcracker.
Unfortunately for him, I was not his employee.
Even more unfortunate for him, I was number fifty nine. Under normal circumstances, I would never take a gift from someone who professed such love and happiness. But these were not normal circumstances. From the minute that he sat down with that nutcracker, I plotted my revenge. I actually found myself just sitting there staring at him and waiting for my number to be called. When it was, I marched right over to him and made the third and final steal. Dude did not know what hit him. I then marched right back to my seat and plopped down with my nutcracker by my side.
The boss man mentioned that I really must have wanted that nutcracker... and he was right. But not for the reason he thought. I mean I liked the nutcracker, but that is not why I stole it. It could have had a big bag of dog doo and I would have still stolen it. There was just no way on this earth that I was going to let that guy walk out the door with the gift that he wanted.
In the process, I killed two birds with one stone: I avenged my wife's honor and I got a cool nutcracker. So it turned out that everything worked out just fine for me and my nutcracker.
Nowadays, these Chinese Gift Exchanges still cause great anxiety.
First, I worry about the gift that I buy. I don't want to bring a gift that nobody wants and nobody wants to steal. If you have any doubts that I am competitive, I always want my gift to be the first one to be stolen three times.
If necessary, I will blow past the spending limit to ensure that one of my co-workers gets a gift that they really want... and in the process make me look like the thoughtful, generous gift giver that I am.
I have always been concerned about the gifts that I give. This goes back to the days when my six year old nephew cried that someone brought him a Weenie Gift. Fortunately, it was not I. In fact, I may have even encouraged the Weenie Gift classification because it made my cool gift even cooler!
Additionally, I get anxious when people steal gifts from people who really like their gift. I would never steal a gift unless I were confident that the original owner of the gift wanted another chance to pick out something that they they may really love... like say, a nutcracker!
This year, I hit pay dirt.
I brought a griddle along with pancake mix, chocolate chips and a spatula. This was the second gift to be stolen three times and it created a little bit of buzz in the crowd. And for my gift, I was able to steal a hand made nativity table decoration that lights up. The person that originally selected it had her eyes on a few of the other items and was happy to have the opportunity to make another selection.
So now I am just sitting here staring at my new crafty nativity scene and pondering a couple of things. Do they really do these types of exchanges every Christmas in China? If so, would I be able to handle the stress associated with buying the perfect generic gift and then selecting the right gift for me to take home and own?
I suppose that I could handle that stress... and do you want to know why? Because I would have my trusty nutcracker by my side at all times.
You see, things seem to always work out just fine for me and my nutcracker.