Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Gift Giving at the Barn





*a cute, equine inspired Christmas card from the great "Just Horse Gifts" website www.justhorsegifts.com

"....sitting here tonight amidst a lots of bows, ribbon, wrapping paper, etc. has me thinking that it's time to visit the subject of Holiday Gift Giving at the Barn!  And, when I think of this subject I reflect on the various barns wherein I've boarded over the years and the truth is that every single barn had a different way of handling the holiday season!

We will begin our expose' by talking about the standard barn party.  The menu calls for either potluck or the barn owners provide the food, you bring a bottle of "bubbly" and spread good cheer all around!  In addition to the dinner portion of the barn party, you may have been called on to participate in some type of gift swap!  And, the posted-on-the-barn-bulletin-board invitation states that you should not spend over $10.00 - $20.00, etc. on this gift swap!  Then there's the age-old dilemma of how said gift giving will proceed - will it be the simple task of picking a name out of a hat, keeping your pick name a secret and come party night, discreetly placing your gift under the tree?  Or........will it be "The Yankee Swap".  The last time I was involved in a "Yankee Swap" was at a Dressage Club Christmas party and although my memory isn't serving me well on this particular subject, I will do my best to explain how it's done; 

but first, please allow me to digress for a moment because I want to tell you that, in my humble opinion, I honestly believe that this type of exchange breeds feelings of low esteem about the gift you have chosen for the swap!  In other words, you begin with the fact that everything is cloaked in secrecy - you pick a name out of a hat but don't tell anyone whose name is on the little slip of paper, you buy a gift and rush to get it under the tree so no one will see how it's wrapped (gosh forbid that someone watched you and then you've been caught, they know it's your gift by taking note of the wrapping paper) or if it's the "Yankee Swap"; well, that can be confusing and even confrontational.

*Participants draw numbers from a hat (here we go again with the "hat"!) to determine their swap order from one up to the total number of participants,

*The person who picks the first gift opens it and shows it to the rest of the guests.  Then the number two participant picks a gift and chooses to either unwrap it or swap it for an unwrapped gift.  If the gift is swapped, the person who had their gift taken from them gets to unwrap the chosen gift and the turn passes,

*When all the gifts have been opened, the "ol' Yankee Swap" is over.  Afterward, you might find some people trying to trade and  I guess that's considered an acceptable practice.  However, the end result is supposed to be that everyone goes home with a gift they are happy with but that's not a true rendition of what is going on behind the scenes or at least in my opinion (see my opinion in red)!

*Another variation to the swap is that after all gifts have been unwrapped, it's ok to allow the number one swapper to choose a gift from any of the unwrapped gifts and that means you are taking a gift away from someone!  So, in essence, the item in your possession is not yours until the game is over and even then you're not sure; apparently, until you get in your car to go home with your "swap" gift firmly in tow!  It appears as if the secret Gift Giving or the Yankee Swap can have some extremely different outcomes and from what I've heard has even caused tension at some parties (could this really be true????).

Now, it's time to give you my take on what's really happening and my take has absolutely nothing to do with how the game is played but here goes anyway:

....you breathlessly watch your gift out of the corner of your eye, when someone finally chooses your gift, you make certain that you don't stare too much lest someone figure out that it was you who brought said gift!  Your stomach crunches as you watch that person open your gift and the moment of truth has arrived!  Is your gift a winner, is the person happy that he or she has chosen it and if not, as in the rules of "Ye ol' Yankee Swap", does the unsatisfied person find themselves, at the end of the swap, frantically trying to trade with someone whose gift they like better than yours?  Now, can you see how this activity can lend itself to feelings of low self-esteem or tension - hmmmmmm!

Now, on to the important issue of buying holiday gifts for your barn owner, your trainer, your instructor, the vet, the farrier, the barn help, ahhhhhh, what to do, what to do!  My personal rule of thumb is if I am at a barn for a year and I am happy with the care my horse has been given, I want to take the holiday season to show how grateful I am (in other words, I'm grateful that my horse is gets good care) so, in this case, I will purchase a gift for the barn owner.  And since I am not usually at my barn when the barn workers are there, I normally don't even know who they are; so, that brings me to trainer, instructors, etc. and that's a big "YES"!  Ohhhh, my instructor is a saint (yup, that's you Caitlin O'Neill) and quite honestly, she deserves more than money can buy.  She has put up with my disabilities, my fears as a result of my disabilities, my inability to prevent my family from getting in the way of consistent lessons, my horse (although he is usually not the problem, I'M the PROBLEM) and in addition to her expertise as an Instructor and Trainer (sometimes just a few simple words from her help me adjust so well that my ride becomes effortless), the mere fact that she is always and I repeat the word, always calm, cool and collected (which is exactly what I need), she deserves a gift not only at Christmas time but at every other USA holiday throughout the year, even Flag Day, for that matter!

I don't know my new Vet very well and I have not yet met my new Farrier but if I did know my Vet, it is doubtful that I would him a gift.  However, the Farrier is one person who puts up with a lot, in one way or another; so, if next year at this time, Valie still has the same Farrier, he will most surely get a token of my appreciation!

So, now it comes down to what my readers think, what do you do at this time of year and/or what don't you do?  Also, I think it would be equally interesting to hear what gifts you received from your barn owner.  When I arrived at my present barn in November of last year, I never expected to give anything or receive anything.  However, I was delighted to find a gift in my cubby and it was a great looking, long sleeved, sport jersey (inscribed with the Barn Logo on the front, the back of the jersey identified me as a member of the Four Winds Farm Equestrian Team and finally, on the sleeve was my first name)!  I really love the jersey and along with a Christmas stocking filled with peppermint treats for Valie, this gift actually did make me feel like "part of the team", a nice way to welcome me to the farm!  I immediately sent my barn owner, the wonderful Jamie Blash-Arsenault, a thank you note because I was really touched by her gesture!"

1 comment:

BeBe said...

Since I'm at my parents barn, we don't have barn gifts. However, I also give my farrier a gift card for the LCBO (Liquor store here). I will also get something cute for my horsey friends that I ride with regularly.