These photos are of Barbie and Jamal dolls. They were upgraded to their form shown here by Suzanne Stafford, my wife, and Kerie Campbell. The accoutrements are all in line with going to a sweat lodge. Their high class is visible in that both have a warm bathrobe to dry off afterwards.
They made these as gifts for an annual Christmas we participated in at Lynda Caesara’s. It’s sometime called the “white elephant game” because it is anticipated that people bring something they have that is good, but doesn’t fit their needs at the moment. A lot of people, us included, would bring new stuff or, as the girls did here, make something fun. The gift must be wrapped. There is a kind of pride when the gift brought is much coveted and moves around a lot.
Yes, moves around. The rules of the game are:
1. Your place in the game is determined at random, in our case by drawing a number from a hat
2. The first person chooses and opens one gift.
3. The second person may open a new gift, or take the gift from #1, in which case #1 gets to choose and open another gift.
4. The third person may take any of the opened gifts, or choose a new one to open.
5. A gift that transfers from one player to another may not be retaken in that round (that is, stuff moves only once per round, but the subsequent rounds it may be taken again)
5. Ad infinitum, until everything has been opened and claimed.
Obviously the last position is best, because everything but one final gift will have been opened.
If you bring something especially cool and you have an early number, you choose your own gift so that everyone will see it and want it, making it move every round. Usually there are several of these much-wanted items in the game.
Now, I rarely ever ask people for something outright, but I was entranced by these that I not only asked, but I begged for them. Oh, those stone-hearted women!
Oh yea, we played it with 30-40 people so it took up the whole afternoon after the Christmas feast (pot luck).
Anyway, these two dolls went into the gift pile and were chosen early. Everyone in attendance knew what a sweat lodge and its ceremony is about so they moved every round. I watched them go around the circle, and actually held each of them for one round before they went away to other people. But I had a high number, and had little hope of ending with them. And I didn’t. They both went Rusty and Helen’s family there, so they stayed together.
I was crestfallen. I begged! Well, I wouldn’t beg fro Rusty and Helen—it was clear they and their little girls would make good use of them. Upward and onward, I left them and my desire for them behind and got on with life,.
Until the next year—both were in a single package gift that was in the pile the next year. I felt like my dog must feel when he watched the food being passed around at dinnertime, wishing for it deeply.
Long story short: I did end up with them!
They have been variously on display at our house or in my office. And sometimes even sitting away in storage boxes, unappreciated. I feel like I have had my fill and that they deserve to move on. We don’t attend the Christmas party anymore because we a five-hour drive away. Maybe I will just put them onto a gift blanket for the officers of the next ceremony.