And then I stole from the minister

mykarmameter.jpgSo here's how it happened. After teaching my class this morning and running a couple of quick errands, I needed to see Dena for something like 3 minutes. Since she lives in a whole 'nother town, I felt pretty thrilled indeed to learn that at noonish we would actually be within two miles of each other.

Having located the church where her Toastmasters group meets, I congratulated myself on how effortless this little fly-by was turning out to be. Then I walked into a room of friendly people who were eating and who enthusiastically invited me to stay and join their party. What's that you say? Free food, offered up just about the time I'm starting to feel my tummy rumble? Thank you - I do believe I will!

Just as I put the second item of Food You Never Get To Eat Except At Parties on my plate, I heard the announcement that it was about time to get started on their rousing game of Dirty Santa and, no excuses, even those of us who showed up empty-handed must participate, seeing as how some forward-thinking member had provided extra gifts for extra people, and all. 

While this is reported to be an exceedingly popular game, and people often mention a recently-played round in which they either racked up or landed The Most Atrocious Gift Of Ever, I've actually only participated in one or two episodes rounds of this game in my life.  Um, okay. You want to give me your free stuff? Sure, I'll stay!

Sitting down between Dena and the Friendly Dude introduced to me as "George," he and I quickly discover we've each drawn nines in the selection of sixteen pieces of numbered paper that will determine the order in which we choose our gifts. Or is that sixes? The usual banter culminates in his suggestion that ladies go first. To which my reply is, "Or perhaps members of the club should get to choose!" George has a hearty laugh at that, telling me that he, too, is a party crasher. But everyone's clearly quite fond of George, and familiar, too, so I'm intrigued, but whatever. Not my business. I'll be six, since I'm the girl, and you be nine.

And the games begin. My own chosen package turns out to be the third in a series of quite nice cookies in a tin. (My own are Belgium Chocolates...mmmmm!) And then Someone Equally Friendly To Whom I Am Not Introduced, across the table, decides to join in the spirit of the game. (No fun if you just draw your number and go up and pick a gift, we're told. Best to pick someone else's!) Someone has just taken his? Well, then, he'll take....mine! Hmmm. By the rules of the game, then, I get to either draw another gift, or take someone else's. George here, to my right, whom I've finally discovered is the minister of the church who graciously allows Toastmasters to use their facilities, has a most excellent pizza stone sitting in his lap. Wow. Those things look cool. I've always thought it'd be really nifty to have one of my own. (That I never actually make pizza? Not important to my story. It's a Very Cool Gift To Get! That's all you need be worried about here.) So around the time someone's reminding everyone again that the game is more fun when we take each other's stuff, I declare,  "My Southern Girl Guilt would really be triggered if I came with nothing, then took this very cool pizza stone away from him." Which was met with a reminder that it is, after all, a game of Dirty Santa. And as I make the quick decision that I will, indeed, take the stone, I see in the faces of more than one participant that, actually it might have been a lot cooler if I'd just taken somebody else's cookies. Or that much-loved can of cashews. Or just picked my own new gift, thank you very much, since there are plenty to go around, and all. Mind you, everyone continues to be friendly and enthusiastic and welcoming. But you know those subtle shifts I'm talking about.

So I'm sitting here with all these nice people continuing to draw gifts and laugh and have a generally good time, while my face continues to feel a little red. George has taken from someone else a little snowman shaped dish that happens to come with a free half hour personal training session with the trainer who's also a member of the group. And although it's a pretty neato gift and Dena's all over wishing she'd drawn a later number 'cause she'd really love to have that, I'm contemplating how I really never, ever do seem to make my own pizzas. And how George The Pastor is really a good sport but maybe he wanted that pizza stone, and who am I to traipse myself into somebody's party and play their game a little too enthusiastically?

105053-599726-thumbnail.jpgThen I get a clever idea. I suggest to George, "If you like the pizza stone more than the workout, we could trade back, and I could give the training session to Dena. 'Cause she'd really love that, and I don't actually ever make pizza from scratch." He thinks about it then admits, "I do already work out about two hours a day." Okay, then my guilt barometer knocks one of the tiles down off the ceiling, as I realize my selfishness caused him to choose a gift he totally doesn't need. (And never mind the other obvious flaw in my suggestion. But ministers don't harbor thoughts like, "Well, Missy, if I give you this little envelope you really shouldn't give it to your fit and trim friend, there. What you really need to do is use this thing for yourself, and while you're at it buy about 25 more!" Do they?)

So by the time Dena returned to her seat, we'd made the little switcharoo and her training session-filled envelope was sitting in her chair and I'd acquired for myself a little freebie, too, for all my effort.

What am I gonna' do with the Indoor Growing Kit that Includes 4 Paperwhite Ziva bulbs which was ultimately my Dirty Santa Gift? you ask... Well, don't you think they'll make a perfect gift for my hostess on Friday night? Lord knows I've already got enough container gardening issues to keep up with...