The Yankee Swap.
For those of you who have never experienced the dark pit of humanity that is a Christmas Yankee Swap, let me explain… In New England, there is a law that states at every holiday gathering of more than six people you must hold a Yankee Swap. Each person is asked to bring a wrapped gift under a certain monetary value ($10 or $20). Everyone then draws numbers and Person #1 picks out a gift and unwraps it. Person #2 then unwraps a gift and can either keep that gift or force Person #1 to “swap” gifts. Person #3 then picks a gift and can swap with either Person #1 or Person #2. The event continues until either all of the presents have been unwrapped or blood is drawn.
The two most common types of gifts found at a Yankee Swap are the “Crap” (items regifted by people who were unfortunate enough to have drawn a low number the year before) and “Targets” (the items everyone wants to take home, and will kill or die to do so.) I try to fly under the radar by bringing yet a third type – the “Adequate” gift. This is the item that no one really clamors for, but neither do people try to dump it like it’s filled with nuclear waste. The mark of a successful “Adequate” gift is that people unwrap it and say, “Eh. Could have done worse. Might as well keep it.”
Make no mistake. The Yankee Swap is a vicious, ugly holiday tradition (which for some reason I enjoy a great deal.) I’ve seen best friends come to blows over a set of 4 Frosty the Snowman dessert plates and co-workers who no longer speak due to a nasty swap involving one ugly set of earmuffs forcibly exchanged for a Mikasa Christmas tree ornament. The worst Yankee Swap incident I’ve seen resulted from a misunderstanding about the rules. Specifically, is Person #1 allowed to go last and choose from all of the unwrapped gifts, or does the person with the last number get the last choice? Actually, I shouldn’t blog about that incident yet as the depositions are still pending.