On Saturday, the 19th of December, I was hungover from the exhaustion of the previous day's activities. The night before was a rowdy one in which Spouse and I hosted a Christmas party.
We hosted THE Christmas Party.
THE Christmas Party is the one we have every year to celebrate and reunite with our Work Cronies from the Glory Days.
I'm hearing you now, dear Rabid Reader, asking about the true meaning of this Glory Days business. Let me tell you! The Glory Days were when a bunch of us collectively, (extra emphasis on collectively) built software.
Back in the brightness of these Glory Days, everyone assigned to the project worked in the same wing of the same building. Can you imagine that? Working with people and having them within your proximity? If you had a question, you could walk on over to the expert and speak to their mug. And when your endearing future Spouse says, "It works on my machine," you could yank him by the ear, walk him on over to your very own cubicle and show him the proof. Not that that has ever happened. Spouse never writes bugs. Or breaks the build. Or leaves his underwear on the floor.
Can you imagine the efficiency? Of presiding in the same building and the same wing as the people you work with? Can you imagine a responsibility realm that doesn't grapple with time zone issues or language discrepancies? I can. I lived the efficiency. It was way fun too.
This particular Christmas Party is the only party that matters anymore for the potluck expiation beats any restaurant and it includes the most blissful of holiday traditions: The White Elephant Gift Exchange.
The White Elephant Exchange with this group has some history. There's always some surprise and laughter and vulgarity and fighting. Someone always goes home with the indecently ill-favored and someone else always goes home with the prized possession - you know the one that got everyone yelling and grabbing. One thing remains constant, however. It's always funny.
Ten years ago, when Spouse was Boyfriend, he ambushed us all with a whammy.
Here's the story. Boyfriend wanted me to have a certain gift, one that he had picked out himself. He rigged the White Elephant Exchange and instructed everyone not to take his delicately-wrapped-in-newspaper gift. He also arranged The Winder to be last. When it was her turn to pick the prize, she would steal my gift. This would force me to pick the only prize left - Boyfriend's delicately-wrapped-in-newspaper wonder. Simple, right?
Here's where the story gets interesting. Half way through the exchange, someone steals my prize. I believe it was a bottle of that Martinellis crap (a true White Elephant indeed) and I chose the delicately-wrapped-in-newspaper wonder. On my own.
In the which I opened the wrapping and the box to find three separate film canisters. I believe I barked something like, "this better be funny," ('cause we're all about the funny) and began the opening of canisters - only to see that the first two canisters contained a roll of film. I was ticked. "This is not funny," I said and opened the third.
I looked into the last canister. And Lo and Holy Behold, right before my giant eyes, there lay a Diamond Ring. THE Diamond Ring. The Ring you ask someone to marry you with. The Ring you wear 'til death do you part. The Ring you use to gauge whether or not you've put on weight. That ring.
Boyfriend had chosen the White Elephant Exchange as the stage for The Proposal.
At first I was confused because it didn't make sense. Obviously this is for me, but how did they get me to pick the right present? Then I got scared and had to sit down with that holy crap this is it kind of sit down.
Boyfriend and I were hitched for all Time and Infinity five weeks later.
I've grown to believe that The White Elephant Exchange is the perfect metaphor for marriage. You don't always know what you've picked. Sometimes it's indecently ill-favored and other times it's the prized possession.
The trick is to keep it funny. And to make sure no one steals it.