Sunday, December 20, 2009

White Elephant 2009

So tonight we had the annual Grad Group White Elephant gift exchange. It's always one of my favorite holiday things but this year it was especially bittersweet because Ben, Gretchen and Lily are leaving us, getting in the car in just a few days to drive to New York, and a new pastor post for Ben. There were lots of hugs and "Merry Christmases" at the end of our meeting, and even a hug from Lily to Holly that turned into a tackle, sending Holly falling (almost) into a couple of big-ish rocks in our front yard (and fortunately not the saguaro cactus that was about a foot away). As Ben said, "That will be a goodbye to remember!"

But while we were celebrating, we were too busy to be sad. We took a group picture, ate potluck food, and then all checked in as Lily (2 1/2), Audrey (1 1/2) and Elliott (11 months) competed for airtime. Then came the White Elephant. Everyone had brought an item, so everyone, including Lily and Audrey, got a number, and the games began. The most popular item was a pair of books, one a Tucson hiking guide and another a book on desert gardening, which were stolen the maximum 3 times. Hale ended up with the big box, with two tray tables and a giant stuffed bear inside, although Lily ended up going home with the bear, who will likely be her pillow on the cross-country trip to come. And Paul ended up with the "classic" white elephant gift, a Christmas Yoda (see picture).

As we gathered outside to say our goodbyes, Lily discovered that when she cupped her hands around a colored Christmas light bulb on our porch, her hand turned green or blue or whatever color the light was. She loved this and kept doing it, causing Audrey to start running from light to light, cupping her hands around each bulb, just like Lily. It was a sweet moment of them playing together - something to remember as we go our separate ways.

So as we start this Christmas week, Godspeed, Ben, Gretchen and Lily, and know you will always have a place here in our hearts and our homes in Tucson!

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

Thanks for writing the memories down. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions, too, and we are so thankful to have shared it with you! All our love,
Gretchen, Ben, & Lily