Country Living (USA)

Jolly Gold St. Nick

Con­trib­u­tor Mary Ran­dolph Carter on why it’s some­times bet­ter to grab than re­ceive.

- “Carter” is the au­thor of mul­ti­ple books about col­lect­ing, in­clud­ing her lat­est, The Joy of Junk. Good News

It was (al­most) the night be­fore Christ­mas some five years ago when I spot­ted this glitzy Santa in one of my fa­vorite junk haunts. I was on the hunt for a crazy one-of-a-kind gift for my fam­ily’s “Nasty Christ­mas” ex­trav­a­ganza, and he was per­fect. De­pend­ing on where you grew up, you may know this ex­change game as “Yan­kee Swap,” “White Ele­phant,” or even “Dirty Santa,” but for those un­fa­mil­iar, here’s how it works: Ev­ery player brings a gift—the more ab­surd, the bet­ter— wrapped in a way that dis­guises what’s in­side. Every­one gets a chance to choose a wrapped gift or “steal” from some­one who has gone be­fore, hence the “nasty.” The last player is luck­i­est of all be­cause he gets to choose from all the now-re­vealed booty. Which leads us back to my gold­en­faced Santa. I had him all ready to add to the pile, and I found I couldn’t do it. What if he ended up with some­one who didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate his charm and—hol­i­day hor­rors!—he ended up on a trash heap? You bet­ter be­lieve I spir­ited this Santa away be­fore the game even be­gan, and now his bril­liant vis­age over­sees all the joys (and nas­ti­ness) of Christ­mases past, present, and fu­ture.

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