Gifts of an Insect Nature
Gifts! What would the holiday season be without
gifts? The annual holiday ritual known as the gift exchange has been going
on for literally thousands of years. It all started with three wise men
who arrived at that stable in Bethlehem bearing gifts--yes, those kings
from afar came bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh.
It is interesting to speculate about why those
three men choose the gifts that they did. Being men, I'm sure one of two
things happened. It could be that their wives reminded them to take gifts
and handed them the stuff. Or it is possible that on the way they stopped
at a roadside market, crawled down from their camels and bought the first
three things they saw! If so, this established another traditional ritual--groups
of men buying gifts on the night before Christmas!
Either way, the gifts that arrived that night are
interesting. Gold, I can understand. Gold is always good. But frankincense
and myrrh? What were those guys thinking? Frankincense and myrrh are,
in spite of their fancy names, plant sap.
In defense of those first Christmas shoppers, these
plant resins are aromatic substances used in candles and ointments and
the like. But if you take a gift of smelly stuff to a woman, you better
know what she likes! I'm not so sure that those three men were that wise.
So there is the distinct possibility that one or both of the plant saps
didn't suit Mary.
What we have here is the beginning of another Christmas
tradition--the white elephant gift exchange. While real white elephants
are rare and venerated in some parts of the world, the term has another
meaning in the United States. Here, it is used for something that requires
much care and expense for little profit. It is something that is a possession
you would just as soon not have--like some holiday gifts we receive.
Office holiday parties frequently feature a white
elephant gift exchange. A chance to palm off on someone else a gift that
was well intended but not what we wanted or could use!
Some insect-related gifts make good candidates
for white elephant exchanges. An insect motif tie would not be a favorite
among most men. There is just something about wearing a tie adorned with
butterflies that makes some men cringe. But then, they might not be much
happier receiving a tie with beetles, bees or dragonflies either!
Some insect things are gaudy enough to end up in
a white elephant gift exchange. The series of plastic butterfly wall hangings
I saw in a store that handled slightly used items might qualify. So might
the real-insect lampshades. With apologies to Martha Stewart, you know,
the kind where real butterfly wings are smashed with some dried flowers
between two sheets of plastic to form a lampshade.
How about those fly shooter devices. The one is
a modern fly swatter. The fly shooter is a spring-loaded device where
the projectile is attached to a string so that the shooter doesn't have
to chase all over the room after shooting at a fly. This device is billed
as an "executive fly shooter." Obviously for the executive who has everything
and also a gift that is sure to show up in the white elephant exchange
Another fly shooter actually shoots flies. You
place the flies in the chamber of the shooter, pull the trigger and away
go the flies. This is for the executive who received the regular fly shooter
Want to give away something imported in the next
white elephant exchange? How about the silkworm ashtray that I picked
up at a flea market a few years back. It is a real collector's item. You
know the kind. It has a clear plastic bottom with all of the life stages
of the silkworm encased in it. I haven't given it as a gift yet. I'm waiting
for the right person to come along. Silkworm ashtrays, like frankincense
and myrrh, are gifts that wouldn't be appreciated by just anyone!