Wade Christmaspalooza 2017 is in the books
My family does Christmas a bit different. The motto might as well be “It’s the thoughtlessness that counts.” The gag gift reigns supreme. Look we’re adults so if there’s something we want at Christmastime we’re going to go out and get it. We don’t need to exchange real gifts. A lot of people draw names, limit the amount spend on gifts or restrict gift-giving to the kids for Christmas. If that’s you, then more power to you.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when the shift to gag gifts happened. I want to say it changed back in the ’80s when my brothers, Ken and Tony, began exchanging the same smokeless ashtray. Then someone gave Ken a Barbie Doll. Excuse me, a Barbie knockoff named Twistie.
Ken passed away in 1990 and even he, the king of the brats and a gag gift pioneer, would be shocked at how far we’ve taken the concept.
This year’s Wade Christmaspalooza was held at the Wade Compound North in Sacramento. My place. The guest list included my brother Orvis and his wife, Patty; my brother Tony and his wife, Beth; my significantly better half Cathi and her daughter Sheryl; and Sheryl’s 12 year old son, my grandson, Kawika aka Vika.
First up was the grub and we tend to serve the same thing every year: ham, mac and cheese, collard greens and deviled eggs. This is just comfort food. This is something our mom used to make back in the day. My stepdaughter Sheryl bought a Honey Baked Ham for dinner that was delicious. Had it been left up to me I would’ve just had my honey bake some spam and called it a day because I’m cheap…Er…frugal like that. But after a delectable dinner we got down to the “gifts.”
First I FaceTimed my younger brother Scott who lives in Canada with his wife Michelle and their four kids. It’s always great having him live on my iPad so he can join in the festivities from nearly 1,500 miles away.
Vika distributed the gifts among everyone, a job Tony’s daughter Kaci had before she moved. Before opening the gifts I had to remind everyone (to great groans and guffaws) that it was the thought that counted and I hoped no one would make a mockery of the holiday by giving cheap gag gifts. Of course my tongue was planted firmly in cheek as I am the notorious gifter of the hamburger with a bite out of it, the double AA batteries with the gift sold separately, the love letter from a dog and the anatomically correct Love Ewe blow up sheep doll (which interestingly didn’t make an appearance this year. Someone is loving that thang.)
I once set the regifting record by surreptitiously opening a Christmas gift to me from my sister-in-law Patty and wrapping it up and presenting it back to her twenty minutes later. She thought we’d simply thought of the same gift. No, it was the same gift!
For one of Vika’s gifts I’d found an old Batman action figure that he’d left over my house years ago and wrapped that baby up. It’s awesome to go Christmas shopping in your house!
Sheryl gave just about everyone banana holders. No, I’m not talking about thongs. (You’d really hate to see us sport them if that’s what it was.) No these were plastic banana shaped single banana holders, one of the most pointless gifts ever. I loved it. I’m sure we’ll see them in the future.
In addition to the just about worthless 2017 calendars I received, I also opened a present containing a jar of something called Snibbels. Looked like a jar of baby foreskins but I’ve since learned they’re some kind of sliced German sausage that’s a delicacy in Deutschland. Yeah, they can keep it over there. I’m regifting this next year for sure.
Orvis seemed afraid to pull the navy blue “TRUMP Make America Great Again” bumper sticker out of the box as if it were a snake that might bite him. I offered to go outside and affix it to his car when his wife objected in horror, “Hey, that’s MY car!!!”
Likewise my brother Tony acted as though the red MAGA hat I gifted him with would singe his fingers if he lifted it from it’s package. Amid applause, hoots and hollers he refused to try the hat on. I think he was just acting. He’s probably sporting that thing around the house right now, that I can tell you.
It reminded me of the time several years ago when I gave his wife Beth a Confederate battle flag. Fortunately I captured the look of disbelief on Tony’s face as she unfurled it and he protested, “That’s not staying in the house!” Since then the flag has been gifted back and forth in creative ways. I noticed it didn’t make an appearance this Christmas. I can only guess that Tony still hasn’t realized the Confederate flag is hidden underneath a framed Oakland Raiders poster I gave him last year. He probably has it on his wall right now.
It wasn’t all fun and games. Some real gifts were exchanged. Tony gave me a genuine reproduction of a Charlie Brown colorform set. Colorforms (google it) were popular in the early ’70s and it instantly took me back to my childhood.
I received an awesome sweater and kickass long sleeve Oakland Raiders shirt and some QHM (Quality Hippo Merchandise because I’m a connoisseur and collector of hippo memorabilia. Yeah, I gifted the hippo to myself but that’s beside the point.)
There were other crazy, funny, twisted gifts but I can’t tell you everything. For some of it, you just had to be there. Suffice it to say there were many laugh til you cry, laugh til you pee moments.
And then I killed all the hilarity in the room by gifting my girlfriend Cathi a framed collage of photos of our Maltoodle Rafi who died a month earlier. Even though Cathi had since gotten a new puppy, Cassi, I knew she’d found it difficult to even look at photos of Rafi. I had to make her that tribute so she could embrace the memory of her baby girl. Cathi dissolved into tears and it was like one of those John Hughes movies where you’re laughing one minute and quiet and studying your shoes the next.
All kidding aside it’s the family and fellowship that really matters. The sheer joy of genuine belly laughs sustains us. Being together with people with shared life experiences, who get all your cultural references and jokes and who you know you can count on through thick and thin is what makes the magic of a Wade Christmas work. The gag gifts are just a vehicle to enable that deep enduring loving connection. That and a good piece of pie will do it every time.
Oh. There’s one more thing. I thought I would grace my family with the tasteful gift of handcrafted framed artwork. I lovingly created a picture of a free-spirited character who looks like one of Jim Henson’s muppets. Only in my case I’d call it a “buppet.” It’s a googly-eyed good-natured crack-up called “Butty.” Surprisingly, no one seemed to want it. So now #Butty is my gift to you. Happy New Year.