Monday, December 26, 2011

The Vanecek Christmas Party

The Vanecek Christmas Party is an annual family tradition. My mother-in-law's maiden name is Vanecek. There are four Vanecek siblings who were raised mostly by their father, Pete, in San Patricio County in Texas. Aunt Estelle lives in Sinton, Aunt Marilyn lives in College Station, Uncle Peter and Aunt Margaret live in College Station, and Ruth (my mother-in-law) lives in Corpus Christi. They get together every December, usually the weekend before Christmas, for the Vanecek Christmas Party.

This year we gathered at Joejoe and Brooke's home. Joejoe is Aunt Estelle's grandson. They have a lovely home with a huge great room that will hold The Vanecek siblings and their descendents.

Sometimes it's been a year since we've seen each other, so the party starts with friendly greetings.

Then, while the adults visit and talk, the kids play.

Joejoe and Brooke prepared chicken and beef fajitas as the main course. We always have tamales too. Each family brings a covered dish or two. There is always plenty of food and lots of leftovers.

The highlight of the party is always the gift exchange. We play "Dirty Santa." Every adult brings a gift for the exchange. Years ago, we originally started out with "white elephant gifts" but we have evolved over the years. Most gifts are valued between $10 and $20 and often include wine, small appliances, gift cards, etc. Usually "gag" gifts are accompanied by a modest gift card, so most people feel like they got something good.

I think everyone knows how to play "dirty Santa" but, basically, everyone draws a number. The game starts with number 1 choosing and opening a gift. Number 2 can then either choose another gift or take the one that number 1 chose. If number 2 takes number 1's gift, number 1 gets to choose another gift. It goes on until everyone has chosen. The third person who gets a gift gets to keep it.

One other note, children are not included in "Dirty Santa" because most of the items exchanged would not be appropriate for children. Since there are quite a few children who attend the party, each child's family brings a small inexpensive gift for them to open. They don't exchange gifts, they get to open whatever their parents or grandparents bring for them.

This year, as in most years, there was a gift left over at the end of the exchange. (I'm pretty sure that Aunt Marilyn always brings an extra gift.) It was clear to everyone that it was a stick horse. So our eight year old niece, Libby, opened it and handed it off to one of the little boys. I'm not sure who had it first, but I thought you would enjoy the video of the ensuing fight. Jaxon and Junior are first cousins. Suffice it to say, they didn't exactly agree on possession of the stick horse.

In spite of this little incident (wink, wink) between the cousins, everyone had a good time. It's so good to gather with family and catch up on what everyone is doing this year. Thanks to Joejoe and Brooke for hosting a lovely family gathering.


  1. Sounds wonderful -- keep scanning the faces to see if we have any mutual friends. . .I am sure we do, I just haven't seen any yet!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. This sure churned up some old and wonderful memories of Christmas as a child when EVERYONE would gather together. Now most of them are gone and the rest of us live on other sides of the country so getting together just doesn't happen often. Thanks for sharing! Merry Christmas.