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The Farm Bleat: The Christmas purge or, um, White Elephant gifting

Six nephews, four nieces, four great-nephews, six great-nieces, that’s 20 gifts in all. Not a problem!

Julie 2019 mug.jpg
Julie Buntjer
We are part of The Trust Project.

It’s long been said that it is better to give than receive, and after spending Sunday at the Buntjer family Christmas, I must say I have a new appreciation for the saying.

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It may depend on who you ask among my nieces and nephews, though. They were on the receiving end of my quickly concocted decision to free up some storage space in my humble abode.

The idea began with a porcelain Tarko Doll Company doll — still in its original box — taking up precious space on the top shelf of my largest (not large enough) storage closet. Certain it wouldn’t be accepted at a consignment shop, I thought, “What if I gift it to someone else who would (shockingly) want it, or have no qualms regifting it, listing it on eBay or tossing it out with the trash (don’t tell me — I don’t want to know)?”

Like I said, that’s where the idea began.

The doll came off the shelf, and then I looked around the house for other things I’d like to part with. Once I had half a dozen “gifts” — and discovered a tote filled with Barbie ornaments with enough non-holiday dressed Barbies to give to each of the six great-nieces — I began a list.

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Six nephews, four nieces, four great-nephews, six great-nieces, that’s 20 gifts in all. Not a problem!

And so began Aunt Julie’s White Elephant gift project, an abridged version in which I gifted and, in exchange, received a few smiles and even a little laughter. How fun is that?

Not only did I part with stuff taking up space in my condo, I also used up the last of two rolls of decade-old Christmas wrapping paper, parted with about half of my collection of gift boxes (bought when the after-Christmas discount kicked in) and wiped out my stash of new and reused gift bags (because who doesn’t reuse gift bags?).

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The little girls seemed pleased with their new-to-them — and yes, never-out-of-the-box — Barbie ornaments. Brody ended up with a collection of brand-new fishing lures I’d pulled from my tackle box late Saturday night, and Trenton was pleased with the 2004 Minnesota Twins autographed bat. Danny’s combination birthday and Christmas gift was the Smith Trucking toy truck and trailer, and Jonny received a box of plastic goats with a farmer and four children’s books from my bookshelf. Their gifts to me were their smiles and squeals of excitement — and seeing Jonny carry around his red gift bag of books and goats for the rest of the afternoon.

When it came time to present the gifts for the nieces and nephews, I lined 10 gifts in front of the family. There were some skeptical looks, obviously. One asked if they were color-coded for males and females. Now, what fun would there be in that?

They didn’t seem to think I’d stick them with something awful. Perhaps they know me better than I thought.

I did imply to a few of them, however, of the potential “Zonk” among the selection — that porcelain doll that, unbeknownst to them, I’d wrapped in a beautiful blue wrapping paper with sparkly snowflakes. (I also placed a blaze orange hunting bag in a perfectly pink Vera Bradley shopping bag.)

One of the many nephews who hunt was the pleased recipient of the hunting bag, another nephew unwrapped a brand new Nordic Ware baking pan and said his wife would be happy. She was. The nephew who got the new set of food storage containers said he needed them, and the girl who got the Tupperware pitcher (it was a BOGO, and I didn’t need two), said her mom would use it. Two of the kiddos received dedicated cross-stitched pieces — and the niece who was married in September received the once-missing “little something” wedding gift that appeared during the scouring of my closets.

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Oh, and that sleeping porcelain doll from the Tarko Doll Company … well, it was opened by a nephew who has three daughters. Did they like the doll? Let’s just say they were overjoyed to stomp on all of the bubble wrap I’d packed inside the box.

Here’s wishing you a Christmas season of surprises, and remember — it really is better to give than to receive.

Read more from Julie Buntjer:
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Opinion by Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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