The Yankee Swap
My family has had a long Christmas Day tradition of the Yankee Swap. I can remember doing the swap over 20 years ago, although I’m sure the tradition started long before that. Whoever shows up on Christmas Day is invited to participate whether they bring something or not (my mother always has a stash of gifts). Friends have participated, boyfriends, friends boyfriends, even the mom of my best friend participated one year.
My two brother-in-laws have taken the swap to a new level of competition. You see, the swap is not about swapping the best gift but rather swapping the gift that brings the most laughs. The balance of “most desired” gifts has shifted over the years and instead the swap is all about not being stuck with junk. And gifts like to reappear over the years or even as regift (for example, two years ago my nephew received a towel warmer for his birthday that we received during the swap – he was psyched!)
Early in the game this year, the first gift picked was a snuggie for the dog. This was opened by my 8 year old niece. Lucky for her, as #1, she gets to take the last gift of the game from all the other openers. This year she went home with a giant box of pop tarts (which almost every kid tried to get). My brother first scored a fabulous “genuine” leather jacket (originally purchased for $5.00 at CVS), but later his step son snagged this gift and was thrilled at his “steal”.
My family landed numbers 10, 17, 18 & 19. 19 was the last number before 1 gets their overall pick. As #10, I opened the 2nd pair of pink pedicure slippers but quickly swapped these with my grandmother. She had chosen a highly sought after gift that was a certificate promising the owner free use of the family vacation home for a weekend with no family interference (please note: this is not something she could physically or would want to use). Shortly after I went, my sister-in-law opted for large rectangular gift. When she removed the wrapping paper, she discovered a plastic Tupperware container. As she nervously removed the lid, the shriek in her voice and her leaping across the room, had us all anxious to hear what was inside. Turns out she stumbled upon a live lobster which was wrapped just before the swap.
I didn’t get to hang onto the certificate for too long, my sister took it from me and I wound up with a candle set. Later however, my husband took it back (although now swears he’s using it for a weekend away with the brother-in-laws).
My 3-year old son scored the best gift of the night, the live lobster. In fact when he woke up the day after Christmas he said “mommy, I love that swap game! I get to eat lobster for lunch!!” In the moment, I wasn’t so thrilled by his gift choice. A sit-down dinner of tenderloin, mashed potatoes and vegetables for 23 all cleaned up. Dessert about to be served and here I was putting another pot of boiling water on the stove. In the moment I was spent, but the next day, with this happy boy sitting across from me at the lunch table with lazy man lobster and butter, made it all worth it.
Seconds after the photo was taken, the shirt came off, even cuter than the 1st. The winner of this year’s best swap gift goes to the brother-in-law who brought the lobster. Congrats!