The Black Boot Brigade and the Ornament Exchange

dsc_0086Decorating for Christmas is essential for Expat Princesses who do not go to the Land of Not So Much Plenty Anymore for Christmas – it is a large part of what makes not getting on the airplane to see your family bearable. Your home has to look like it is prepared for the holidays. It has to say Bring on Christmas.

This is especially true in countries where Christmas is not celebrated. Yesterday I spent about 30 minutes riding in the car trying to explain to my driver, V3, what Christmas is really about. All those nativity scenes I have collected throughout the years, it turns out, are a great visual. V3 did not know, for example, that Jesus was in fact a historical figure. He thought he was made up. This is not to say he understands a word that I say but at least I am providing an alternative view of World History.

But at times, my own excess frightens me. My holiday decorations, inventoried for shipping purposes, are valued in the thousands of dollars. It has become a passion of mine, decorating my house in December, so my family forgets they are in a foreign country. This year I have pulled out all the stops, with KT’s words ringing in my ears. She told me, a few years ago in Brazil, how important it was to the other families in Qing Dao, where she lived about a decade ago, that they came to a house where Christmas was celebrated. Many companies do not permit families to not bring their household possessions with them to China because there is a 30% import duty levied. So decorating a house, in fact, becomes a service, a duty, a mission, if you will for Expat Princesses lucky enough to cart their household around the world. KT’s house in Brazil decorated in Brazil was over-the-top outstanding.

With this in mind, Bea Long and I hosted a H2H fundraiser and ornament exchange on Thursday night for the women of the Jewel Box neighborhood. A select few from the GlamaVillas community were also invited. Raise some money to repair hearts, get an ornament, and have a cup of cheer is how we billed the event. In preparation for the ornament exchange, Bea Long fussed and puttered with me in the living room, brought over her spoils from a cookie exchange, and told me what decorations to ditch. She even organized my cocktail napkin and candle collection for me.

The Black Boot Brigade showed up at my house right on time. You have never seen so many pairs of black boots in one room: tasseled boots, patent leather boots, patent leather faux crocodile boots, stileltto boots, chunky heeled boots. Santa would be green with envy at the assortment. I am sad to say I forgot to take a photo of all the boots. Sexy Mormon Mrs. Wild* was wearing an especially rockin’ pair.

I thought about Caviezeling my readers by telling them I added cumin to my pumpkin pie instead of cinnamon but I knew a good cook could sniff that one out in a minute. This time the pies were perfect. A pot of apple cider with spices was brewing on the stove for hot buttered rum. The Sexy Mormon and Princess XYZ, a Muslim, enjoyed hot mocktails – we aim to accommodate in the name of ecumenity. Besides, you have got to love the Muslim that comes to a Christmas ornament exchange!

The Dirty Santa ornament game was relatively restrained with only moderate stealing going on. It is hard to steal a whole box of ornaments from the woman who is waiting for her household shipment to arrive and has to go out and buy every stitch of holiday décor, for example. Some women, however, were caught wedging their gifts between the sofa seats so others would not remember their gifts and swap them out. Don’t think we didn’t notice! I hope this becomes a new tradition; it was worth decorating my house just for this group of women, they were so appreciative of all my crap.

Here are the rules for hostessing your own ornament exchange:

1) everyone brings a $5-$10 ornament
2) count the number of guests
3) number 1 square of paper per guest (i.e., 1, 2, 3), fold, and put in bowl
4) the person with the square with #1 goes first and unwraps a gift from the pile
5) the person with square #2 can then decide to unwrap another gift or steal gift #1
6) repeat. The person with square #3 can steal any of the unwrapped gifts.
7) a gift can only be stolen 4 times and then it is “retired”

Posted above is a photo of my “tree”, found in a roadside restaurant in Brazil, which sports my White House ornament collection exclusively. Flakey Friend has given me a White House ornament every year since 1992. It is one of my most prized possessions, this collection. I can’t wait to get this year’s!

Happy Birthday to Flakey Friend on December 15 and Safmomma on the 16th!!!

* I asked for, and was given, permission to refer to her this way.



Filed under Birthdays, Charitable Endeavors, Life, Traditions

4 responses to “The Black Boot Brigade and the Ornament Exchange

  1. Mood Ring Mama

    How Flakey can a Friend be who gives you such a great gift for 16 years???? We might need to retire her handle and change it to Mrs. White House.

  2. I did not call FF that, she christened herself. But I agree, she should change her name! Let me also just say that Mr. Understanding looks forward to the ornament as much as I do.

  3. Flaky Friend

    I sent this years on Dec. 13, but it wasn’t to go out until Dec. 15 due to customs requirements at the post office. Should be there no later than Dec. 24. I really like this year’s. Also, have I really given you once since 1992? Maybe I’m not as flaky as I thought:). Happy holidays.

  4. gamamae

    What road sides did you travel on?? What a great eye you have! I bought one of those santas climbing a rope( visiting sister-in-law called it bondage santa) last year, but it got left out during rainy season and became a home for various insects. The guys selling them on the roadside disappeared Dec.26th, so I was sem sorte!! LOVE seeing photos of your home, helps me imagine you all hanging out playing wii sippping hot chocolate or buttered rum!

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