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Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio

Wily White Elephant

December 26, 2012 - I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I had a good one, spending time with family and friends.

The Christmas party here at the newspaper was fun. Publisher Jim Sherman Jr. generously hosts the entire newspaper group for lunch in Oxford, followed by our annual White Elephant gift exchange.

I look forward to that albino pachyderm every year it's where all the gifts are piled up and everyone gets a turn to pick one out, or you can take a gift that has already been selected. Then that person, usually in a foul mood after having been stolen from, gets another choice.

Quality of the gifts vary widely and each gift can be "stolen" up to three times, so there's always some strategy going into it. Some of us bring great gifts I had my eye on a bottle of scotch this year. Others bring the most worthless stuff they can scrape together on the way out the door to the party.

We happily regift items, sometimes from last year's White Elephant, wrap up old books, DVDs, candles, anything else we want to get out of the house.

One year, I got an old lunchbox an old shop type for adults, not something cool like an old Six-Million-Dollar-Man one, or something.

So it was with bitter disappointment but not surprise when it was my turn, and I found myself with a old bottle of glue, open box of old hinges, and some other worthless hardware.

I had chalked it up to another lame White Elephant gift and was looking around to see where old hardware was stashed in the office when ClarkstonTV host Jill Mitchell gave me a clue. Why don't you check it out more closely, she whispered.

Turns out, there was a little map well hidden in an open box of outdoor furniture replacement inserts with instructions to look under the desk in the shredder room. After finding out where the shredder room was, I found the real present a strawberry liquor gift set.

That was more like it; a good White Elephant at last! And I found it too late for anyone to steal it!

It was also the publisher's gift, which was new, or at least I don't remember him participating before.

Surprisingly whimsical, too.

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