The Boxes Are Empty But Their Hearts Are Full

, , , , , , | Related | December 23, 2020

I have a large extended family with many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Back in the mid- to late 1980s, when I am in my early twenties, we have large family gatherings around Christmastime. It usually takes place in a relative’s home. One particular year, my aunt moves into a condominium building. The condo building has a public room available for use and she reserves it for our gathering. Since Christmas is approaching, the condo association has decorated the room with a lovely Christmas tree.

As part of our traditions, we have a “grab bag.” Each relative attending brings a gift with a twenty-dollar limit on it. During the gathering, we draw numbers from a hat. There are around forty to forty-five of us participating. The relative who has number one chooses a gift and opens it. The person with number two does the same, but if they like gift number one better, they can exchange it. This continues until the lucky last person opens their gift and then has the choice of exchanging with any of the previously opened gifts. It makes for a lot of fun, as there is usually one gift that becomes a favorite and is chosen and then lost by many participants.

On the day of the condo gathering, we start the grab bag. Several of my relatives open their gifts after choosing one from what is under the tree. It comes to my cousin’s turn. She opens her gift and looks disappointed.

Cousin: “My box is empty.”

Me: *Chuckling* “Nice gag, someone. No problem, [Cousin]. Go ahead and exchange with someone who has already opened their gift.”

She does, and we go on with the grab bag. Several more empty boxes make their appearance, and I begin to get a bit annoyed. One empty box is funny. Four or five just does not seem fair.

In the middle of the process, the condo association president stops by to check on our gathering.

President: “How is it going? Are you having fun? Do you have all the supplies and utensils that you need? There are more in the back closet if you need them.”

Aunt: “Everything is just fine, thanks. We are only having an issue with our grab bag. It seems as though several people have decided it would be funny to give empty boxes instead of an actual gift.”

President: “That’s a shame.” *Pauses* “Wait, where are you getting your gifts from?”

Aunt: “Everyone put them under the tree as they arrived. That’s where we are choosing from.”

President: *Laughing* “Let me explain. We wrapped some empty boxes to put under the tree as decorations. I think that’s what you have been opening!”

We all had a good laugh. Sure enough, by the time we got to the end of the grab bag, there was one gift for every relative!

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