If you have to exchange gifts at Christmas in large extended families, drawing names is the lesser of two evils. Fewer tasteless, outrageous gifts tantalize the hopeful. Desperate relatives save the expense and time spent shopping for hideous gifts that hit the trash or wait to be regifted the next Christmas.
An optimist, I always tried to prepare my children before the gathering, knowing what awaited them. “You may get something you hate. Just say ‘Thanks’ and be nice about it. This isn’t the only gift you’ll get this year.” I should have given them instructions they were more likely to follow. “Feel free to act like a jackass when you get a piece of crap!” It’s even worse when the kid gets a “potato clock” and a cousin hits the jackpot! In case you never saw one, a potato clock is a clock that is powered by two electrodes stuck in a potato, just what every seven-year-old boy is dreaming of. Don’t worry. His disappointment was relieved when his four-year-old sister opened her gift, a cap pistol. She threw it at the Christmas tree and collapsed bawling on the floor. I think somebody forgot whose name they had that year. I didn’t even bother to try to make her thank the one who gave it. What was the point?
Thankfully, we gave up this fine tradition several years ago, once everyone’s children had sufficiently embarrassed them. It’s so much better now to just enjoy each other’s company without bringing home a token of their thoughtlessness and bad taste!