dahlia in my garden: Rio Fuego in Coleus leaves

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Seeking the Perfect Gift among the White Elephants

Today my church is holding its annual Christmas Bazaar. As usual, I will volunteer to sit at the White Elephant gift table for an hour. It will be especially painful for me this year (my sacrum hurts so desperately when I sit for more than 10 minutes and conversely, my feet are a mess so it is torture to stand as well) and I’ll probably have to use my wheelchair - but I always look forward to this event! The funds raised will go toward our church's various outreach ministries.

The Bazaar will feature lots of great things: several outside vendors will be offering their jewelry, clothing, and food items. There will be lovely handmade projects the church ladies have labored over for months like embroidered dish towels, quilts, placemats, Christmas ornaments, and more. As always, there will be at least two tables covered with homemade holiday goodies like cake, fudge, pumpkin bread, cookies, jam, and lots more delicious treats! Additionally there will be a delightful tea luncheon served to add another layer of enjoyment to a pleasant and relaxing afternoon of shopping.

As for me, I love the White Elephant table best of all. Church members donate new or gently used objects they do not want, and it’s amazing how those unappreciated things can end up being the perfect gift for someone else! It’s such a remarkable mishmash of stuff spread out for shoppers to scout through. It’s fun to have someone ask for my help, to tell me a cute story about why their aunt collects pigs or why their sister likes anything related to fairies. I enjoy the thrill of ferreting through all those knickknacks and finding the hidden treasure meant especially for that shopper’s loved one.


Last year, I found a perfect gift among the white elephants. I have a friend who loves dragons; not cutesy ones, but those which are scary. When I started my shift at the table, I noticed on the far end a peculiar purple thing which I couldn’t identify. As soon as I picked it up, I knew I had to get it for her. It was a large handmade stuffed purple Chinese dragon whose face had so much personality! I can’t imagine why anyone would have sewn him in the first place - other than he was meant to find his way into my friend's arms. Indeed, when she unwrapped my gift on Christmas morning she was happily surprised and completely in love with it.

Last week my mom and another church lady were sorting and pricing the white elephants in preparation for the Bazaar. As they worked the lady suddenly exclaimed, “This is the just the right gift for my daughter!” At first, my mom couldn’t tell what the odd-looking thing was. On closer examination she discovered it was a fuzzy squirrel pin. 

Then the lady explained, “Two of my daughters lived in a duplex together where one of the neighbors fed the squirrels until the population exploded. There were so many squirrels getting into everything and everywhere, it drove them nuts! Ever since then, my oldest daughter always searches for some kind of squirrel gift for my youngest daughter, in joking memory of their time among the crazy squirrels!” 

And so another unique white elephant finds its way to just the right person!

With the economy tight and many of us pinching pennies this year, I suggest to you that secondhand gifts or ‘white elephants’ are a great way to go. I really cannot wait to get to the Church Bazaar today and see the fantastic selection of trinkets and geegaws (such a great word!) waiting to become the perfect gift under a special someone’s tree.

I wish you all a Happy Holiday *Shopping* Season!

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