Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Traditions

As we slide into the holiday break I thought I'd take some time to be personal and share some stuff about how this particular teacher spends some of his two weeks off.  Obviously there is the required "Call of Duty Online during Nap Time" that most of you probably already assume I do.  And Xander has developed a deep love for Bon Jovi and Journy by way of "playing" Rock Band 2.  Mostly it involves him jumping around holding a microphone and shouting "Shot through heart!  You blame.  You give wuv a baname, baname."

Of course this time of year always brings up that question:  What do you get the geek you love?  The easy answer?

Where else can you find:
My family celebrates Christmas (which I openly acknowledge that not all families do).  For us it's getting together with my Mother's family on Christmas day, my Father's family the weekend before, and my Wife's family somewhere when we can coordinate with my Brother-in-Law and his wife and ~her~ family.  You know you're married when holiday planning requires a flowchart and organizational tree.

But my Father's family has a neat tradition we've been doing every year for about the last five now to help control the cost of providing a present for every aunt, uncle, cousin and cousin's kid.  Here's what we do:

First "adult" in the family brings a present, wrapped, that is around $25.  Part of the game is to get the "Most" present for $25.  They are also wrapped so no one knows what's in it, and you don't put your name on the present, ideally, so no one knows who brought it.

Then a name is pulled from a hat with all of the players' names.  They go first and pick a present to unwrap.  Whatever they get, that's their present.

Then the second name is pulled.  That player gets a choice:  A)  Steal the unwrapped present from player #1, or take a present from under the tree to unwrap.  If the unwrapped present is stolen, then the first person goes to the tree to pick a present.

A third name is drawn, and he (or she) gets the choice to steal either unwrapped present, or take one from the tree.  Again, if someone has their present stolen, they get a choice:  Steal one from someone else, or take one from the tree.

The only rule about stealing is that a present cannot be stolen more than once in a given round.  So if I steal the George Foreman grill from my mom, and she steals the Starbucks gift card from my sister, my sister can't take the grill from me.  She has to steal from someone else, or go to the tree.

With 2 uncles, 1 aunt, one uncle's girlfriend, my parents, my sister, my 5 cousins and their 4 spouses, that makes for a lot of presents being moved around in a given round and it's not uncommon for couples to plot. "Okay I'll steal the dart board from you so no one else can steal it this round, and you steal the chess set from Uncle Jim so I can have it."  It's a lot of fun, and while it does take some liberties with the "Spirit of Giving" it's all a good time.

And when everyone is done, there's a final "bonus round" who ever got their name pulled first has the option of putting their unwrapped present back under the tree and stealing a present from someone else.  This was because one year my cousin openned something that was very unpopular and that she really wasn't interested in.  Because she went first she had no one to steal from and no one stole from her.  So this became final wrap up.

Every year it's fun to find a great present within the price limit, and of course to try to guess who brought what for the exchange.  My Mother's family has picked up the tradition as well, and this year we're going to try it with my wife's family.  Someone always brings a gift card, usually to Starbucks or Borders, and someone always seems to have the "dud".  One year it was a sweat shirt (which was a men's XL and ended up with my bean pole cousin) and another year it was a Robosweeper and copy of the movie Robocop (yes, that was my attempt to be clever).

And of course, the kids, they all get presents all to their own, no stealing or swapping.  :)

I wish all of my students and families a happy and safe holidays how ever you chose to celebrate them.

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