The Parkers wanted to limit small talk at their annual family Christmas party, fearful that conversation would veer into politics, or religion, or whether Pete Davidson is unconventionally attractive. So they organized a harmless white elephant gift exchange. By night’s end, they would be full of carbs and regret, vowing to play charades next year.
Rachel (60, host, mythical swing voter) felt a lot of pressure as the host to bring something neutral, so she went with adored Sesame Street resident Big Bird, who dressed in a Santa outfit for the occasion. Maybe the family could’ve let the divisiveness of the vaxxed bird slide given his enduring star power and disarming whimsy, but Big Bird, trying to be a thoughtful house guest, ALSO brought a gift: a copy of The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. He thought it was a book about counting, a beloved activity in his community.
Uncle Joe (Republican, 64, wearing cargo shorts even though it’s snowing) brought a stuffed white elephant to the party. He took the game too literally, kinda like his approach to the Bible.
Aunt Claudia (Democrat, 58, Mennonite pastor) brought a Bible (NRSV, duh), which she personally annotated, highlighting over 2,000 verses on poverty along with the passage from 2 Kings about the she-bears because Claudia, bless her, has several bald siblings and a twisted sense of humor.
Cousin Jackie (Democratic socialist, 22, barista and Lyft driver) actually didn’t know about the white elephant gift exchange because when she saw the subject line “Gifts! $20 minimum! No animals ALIVE OR DEAD,” she marked it as phishing. So she put the dinner rolls she had baked into one of her New Yorker tote bags. Honestly, it was the best gift under the tree that night.
Greg? (Pizza delivery guy, not related to anyone, Green Party vibes) brought a box of pizza, unwrapped, partially eaten. No one knew who he was or why he was there but the family decided he could stay (some have unwittingly entertained angels, after all) until the garlic knots he brought for sharing ran out.
Cousin Steve (Libertarian, 34, “immunized”) brought an Aaron Rodgers jersey. Cousin Jackie, who exclusively watches the WNBA, had the misfortune of choosing this gift from under the tree. So while no one was looking, she crossed out “Rodgers” with a sharpie and wrote “Kaepernick.” Uncle Joe did not notice and used his turn to steal the jersey. The crackling of the fire could hardly conceal the cackling of Cousin Jackie.
Grandma Dot (Democrat, too old for this shit) brought an actual Pfizer vaccine, needle and all, and then paid the pizza delivery guy to wrap her inside a very large gift box along with a cup of water, headlamp, and two slices of pizza to maintain her blood sugar levels. She waited eagerly, hopefully, and mischievously, wondering if she had discovered the true meaning of Christmas.