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How about a white elephant holiday this year?

November 30, 2018
Lake Placid News

To the editor:

A few weeks ago I was thrilled to have a little money stashed away to spoil my family and friends this holiday season because that is a luxury I can't always afford. I even started a list of all the thoughtful gift ideas I came up with to purchase for my loved ones. Then, after a conversation with my significant other over supper, he mentioned it would be a neat idea to have a "white elephant" Christmas.

After researching the idea, I learned that this gift-giving tradition originated ages ago when the king of Siam (now known as Thailand) gifted rare albino elephants to those who displeased him because they were expensive and difficult to take care of. Mainly, it was his way of "sticking it to them." In Buddhist and Thai cultures, the white elephant is a revered symbol and frowned upon when regifted or let into the wild. Today, the white elephant tradition is comparable to what we know as "Secret Santa," where everyone buys or makes one gift that could be enjoyed by anyone (usually something cheeky or humorous), then anonymously wrapped and chosen by someone in the group. As cliche as it sounds, it got me thinking about the true meaning of Christmas.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels joy when giving a gift to someone they love and seeing their face brighten and their eyes light up. As a predominately right-brain thinker, I enjoy crafting and creating things that have special meaning because it shows the effort. I'd rather not take the easy way out and walk through crowded aisles and stand in long lines to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on "plastic happiness." It's convenient to run to the store at the last minute and buy something for someone that may have slipped your mind during the holidays. Don't get me wrong, that's understandable to do that. But in the spirit of giving, we should appreciate one another and give more than material items. We should give our time and intention to those we love because ultimately, that is all that matters. The white elephant tradition has become a holiday practice that brings together family and friends, putting aside the amount spent on gifts and instead, gaining an appreciation of precious and valuable relationships. Let's spend the holidays together and be thankful toward one another.

Heather Dale

Lake Placid



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