Monday Dare (& Giveaway): Even at the age of 7, I was an asshole


(A Monday Dare on a TUESDAY? MY BAD. I’m finally on WORDPRESS, motherfuckers. How do you like the new blog design? Old comments are still transferring over, but don’t worry, I GOT THIS.)

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.

This week: More contentment, more of the time

I find holiday gift exchanges daunting. Now that I’m thinking about it, let’s replace “daunting” with “mentally draining and traumatizing to the psyche.” White Elephant swaps require the most emotional preparation because I know I’m going to be opening up some bullshit that’s been rolling around in the bottom of a linen closet or a storm drain. Not only will I muster up an audible laugh to seem good-natured, but I’ll make some kind of gesture with my hand like a thumbs up or a gang sign to let people know I’m really embracing the silly side of the holiday season.

Even when the participants are supposed to bring “good” gifts, I always end up picking the one item in the communal pile that would make even Jesus cry. When will it be my year to take home the snowflake-shaped gylcerin soap set smelling faintly of pine and happiness instead of the rubber balls I’m supposed to hang off the bumper of a truck I don’t own? WHEN??

I try to temper my dissatisfaction and urge to acquire a whole new set of friends by thinking about Sophia.

The last time I saw Sophia, we were both 7. At the beginning of our second grade holiday party, all of the kids sat in a circle with the gift we brought for the exchange. Mrs. Tubb played a Christmas carol on her tape deck, and whatever was in our hands when the music stopped was ours. No swaps. No whining. I didn’t care who’s gift I got, but I didn’t want Sophia’s. She was the only one who had wrapped her box in newspaper. It was the Sunday Comics Section, but still, I just knew in my little asshole heart that it wasn’t going to be anything “good.”

While the other kids ripped open their gifts right there on the floor, I took my comic strip covered box back to my desk and peeled back one piece of tape at a time. Inside, I found a pair L.A. Gear leg warmers. Sophia walked over. “My grandma and I picked them out together. They’re so pretty.” When I didn’t respond, she went back to her desk and starting coloring with her gift, a brand new box of crayons. I heard her singing softly as I folded the leg warmers in half and stuffed them back into the box.

Sophia didn’t come back to Mrs. Tubb’s class after winter break. I never saw her again. I still wonder why she didn’t tell anyone she was moving. I wonder if she even knew herself.

My L.A. Gear leg warmers are still folded in half in my sock drawer. I think of Sophia often. I think about how content she was with her gift. I think about how some people are able to find joy in small everyday things. I think about how even now, at the age of 32, I could learn so much from that 7-year-old.

Sophia, you’re right. They are so pretty.



I fucking love presents. Maybe you do too. To celebrate this holiday season, I’ll be doing a giveaway each week until the end of the year. Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) for giveaway updates, not-posted-on-this-blog pictures, (t)hug life thoughts, and other random shit.

This week: Besotted Brand Custom Monogram Stamp



If I’m being real, I can’t even believe Tristan, the creative GENIUS behind Besotted Brand, agreed to be part of the holiday giveaways. Her custom stamps and paper products are some of my favorite things. I love fancy shit, and Besotted’s high quality everything makes it easy to give beautiful custom gifts to others…and to myself. Tristan will create one custom-designed monogram stamp for the lucky winner.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below with a holiday gift exchange item you’ve given or received. (P.S. What do you think of the new blog design?) Only comments left on THIS POST qualify.

LAST WEEK’S TRILOGY WINNER: Steph (the first part of your email is SCYLE) Please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail dot com with your address.

first image via, second and third images courtesy of Besotted Brand

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  • Rebecca Allen

    i like the new design. I have given boring stuff like candles or gift cards nothing too scary. I would love to win the stamper. It reminds me of the ones they make in Korea that you can use as your legal signature.

  • Lala

    I just sent a vial of do-it-yourself snow to a guy in Florida that I’ve never met.
    It was part of the Reddit secret Santa gift exchange that I signed up for last month for the first time ever.

    I hated it.
    But I got some cool shit from someone in North Dakota.

  • Monique

    Last White Elephant I participated in, I ended up with a bottle of Patron…not bad for a work party.

  • Jacquie

    I love the new design, you see even though I’m part of this technology generation, I’m not technology savvy. This new design is much easier for me to understand and navigate to get to all the funny shit you write quicker, I like that shit :)
    The last xmas exchange I was part of was for work. I WOULD get stuck being my bosses secret Santa. Fml. But I made the best of it. I bought him some really cool “Papa Smurf” shirts (we call him Papa Smirf) that mad laugh.

  • Elizabeth Barnes

    my family does a Christmas Eve exchange. I’m supposed to bring a gift for a woman. I try to give something I’d want to get. (Last year I gave a bunch of chocolate in a pretty tin.) Almost every year I get dish towels. It’s kind of bullshit.

  • Rachel B

    My last secret santa exchange I received a Hillary Clinton nutcracker. Back in 2008 that was a timely and fun gift. Fast forward 4 years and I unwrap a birthday gift from a well meaning friend who anxiously asked if I already had one. Of course I lied. Who can have too many nut breaking, blue pants suit wearin, baller, nutcrackers?

  • Amber Holt

    The last gift exchange I participated in was like 7 years ago and I gave someone a shit ton of chocolate.

    The site looks great! Super clean and visually pleasing.

  • Liz T.

    Last white elephant gift I got was a bottle of whiskey and a zebra print snuggie. Best. Gift. Ever.

  • Ash

    I just spent 10 mins hitting the 0 comment button wondering why it wasnt letting me comment. 0_0 all i had to do was scroll down. anyway i love the new design. just have to remind myself to be smarter then the computer sometimes. Once at a christmas exchange i was 21 and recieved ann frank stickers,well pass the sticker stage and i doudt that fit into the $10 limit! and if they spent $10 on a book of ann frank stickers they were idiots. and I only did one more after and that one i recieved a ornament that said worlds coolest grandson and considering my grandparents werent involved and im not a man. I’m thinking that was a total regift. I am all for regifting if it falls within the rules of regifting!

  • Cindy

    When people find out that you like a certain thing they tend to think that is the thing they should always buy you. I love pearls, and people always buy me pearl jewelry. More often than not, I hate it and will never wear it. Last year a friend of mine bought me a tear drop shaped pearl necklace. It wasn’t completely hideous, but it wasn’t something I would ever wear. It was however the perfect gift to re-gift for our company White Elephant gift exchange! The woman who opened it was a bit older and absolutely loved it! I over heard a lady at the table next to me say “Some people just don’t understand what a White Elephant gift exchange is! That gift is too nice for this game!” The gifts were to be given anonymously, but I really wanted to turn to her and say “One woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure!”

  • Maggie

    One year a co-worker gave me a letter saying they were making a donation in my name to a nonprofit organization…..luckily is was a joke. That’s what I get for saying I love giving more than receiving. LOL Love the new design!!

  • FearlessFibro

    Don’t pick me—-I would insist on a fancy, “WTF” or something, and tarnish the concept of fancy monograms. I’m such an asshole.

  • Rachel Smith

    Truthfully, I hate gift exchanges. So much pressure and I tend to get the craptastic gifts…for example, I got the tube of Avon Coral lipstick (yep), the recycleable bag holder (not the bag, just the plastic holder), the under-the bed shoe rack (which got regifted). Never works out for me…But this fancy stamp stuff from Besotted Brand…now this, I like!

  • chrish in Houston

    The worst holiday gift I ever received in a gift exchange was a hand made, crocheted hat that I am quite sure someone’s grandmother made. I am sure that it was their grandma because no one under 80 knows how to crochet. Anyway, the damn hat came apart right near the stupid ball on top. (The Achilles heal of all crochet hats)

    Nice, slick website

  • shannon

    i love how the simplest things can stay with us and keep us just a little more grounded when we look back at it, that was a really sweet story…although being of an age with you i do have to say that at age 7 you had a style calling cos *everyone* was wearing those damn leg warmers and i was just like, uh, huh…? i love the new blog design, fan of the font, and that your page no longer confuses my laptop into loading and re-loading a shit ton of times before i can read it ;) happiest of holidays to you and yours…

  • Misty

    The white elephant exchange at my job has devolved into pretty much just exchanging bottles of booze. Yeah, good times!

    I love this story, by the way. The fact that you still have those leg warmers to remind you of your younger days. And maybe to keep you humble? Just a little.

  • Carmen

    I Effin LOVE that you still have those leg warmers.

    Last Christmas I was ‘gifted’ a cookie sheet. Awesome.

  • Skye

    I love the new blog design. Shit I cant remember the old blog design let alone what I did 5 minutes ago other than scream at some moron somewhere in this world. So with that it’s beautiful.

  • Bex

    Love the new blog design! I went to a white elephant gift exchange last weekend, and I bought a bunch of holiday scratch tickets for my gift, and then I had a dream the night before about the tickets being worth thousands and thousands of dollars and almost decided to keep them, because I consider myself mildly psychic. Luckily my holiday cheer won over, and I gave those tickets away, which turned out to be all losers.

  • Mel

    Love this new design. So classy and totally stays true to the old aesthetic!

    In elementary school, we had either secret Santa or white elephant, and I ended up with my crush’s present. I was so excited until I opened it and saw that it was four candles spelling NOEL. Sigh. His mom obviously got it for him. I just remember thinking, “WTF am I supposed to do with this?!”

  • Robyn_Chilcoat

    Love! Love! Love! The the new blog design. Tres chic! I too dread holiday gift exchanges. Case in point; I got poo spray two years ago at one. What is poo spray you might ask?!? It’s a spray that you spray into the toilet bowl before going…well you know where I’m going with this. Sigh! Worst part is no one would own up to it so I couldn’t even high five them on the forehead for it!

  • GoNad

    We need a pic of the leg warmers!
    Last year, I got a machete at a Holiday gift exchange. That’s right, your eyes aren’t foolin’ with ya: a mother effin’ Machete, Ese!
    Did I mention kids were part of the exchange?

  • vanessalillian

    Nice blog! At present I feel a little like I’m leaning to the right because the bar is there, but now I know how people feel reading mine…

    We did a variation on Secret Santa last week where you can steal the gift someone else received. But you can’t do a direct steal – you have to swap your lesser gift around first. I went from an awesome box of miniature percussive instruments (hand helt maracas, tambourine and casti nets plus a kazoo and some guitar picks), to having a travel mug and some Christmas flavoured tea. I was sad :( Althoigh the tea really did taste like Christmas so now I’m less upset!

  • Tammye Becknell Gilbert

    You are sooo funny!! The worst gift exchange I ever received was a plain ole green garden hose…no shit…

  • Stephanie

    WTH, you moved to WP w/o telling me? I had to press the RSS button again. ugh, my index finger is killing me. Just kidding. Seriously, I like the new site. it’s clean and still you.

  • Venessa Ford McCurdy

    Nice blog, its the first time visiting and I LOVE it! Just today my husband and I recieved a basket of Ghirardelli chocolate goodies from our lanlord whom we have never met personally. They sent a note thanking us for “taking care of their home” (we’ve only been here for less than a month so far). It made us feel good to be noticed even by someone we really don’t know.

  • Nicole

    Loving the new site design…and your story of Sophia appreciation was touching. I have to say my favorite white elephant present was definitely from this years’ work party. The giver enjoyed a good laugh or maybe had an obsession. The gift? Bacon flavored popcorn, bacon flavored toothpaste and dental floss….u guessed it- also bacon flavored! I love bacon as much as the next girl- but only in its original (crispy) form. :

  • Shannon

    So funny the memories that stick with us! I once received one of those keychain breathalyzers. It really just ended up being used to see who at the party could blow the highest number…

  • mychell

    Love the story!

    For a White Elephant exchange (where you can take other people’s gifts) during the year right after I graduated from college, I gifted the book “Walk of Shame: A Survival Guide” (I somehow acquired this book while in college). Needless to say, it was a huge hit during the gift exchange. It was swapped a number of times.


    Sweet! I can comment without having to reload the page five years! Woohoo for wordpress!

  • Candice Franklin

    I fucking despise white elephant. Yet I go every year. (including next sunday. oh joy…) Why do we torture ourselves?

    On a brighter note… LOVING the new site!

  • The Sweet Spot Blog

    I just gave by BFF’s Sam and David wine sippy cups so they can ‘safely’ drink in the pool. (We just updated the look and feel of our blog too…somehow I cannot figure out how to change this stupid comment logo.)

  • Jennifer Folmar

    I do hair for a living, so I often give away products in gift exchanges. I get a lot of freebies that I can’t use, so into the gift box they go. I got one of those toys that balances on your finger in a gift exchange once, it was in the shape of cartoon superhero “The Tick.” I was very pleased. :D

  • Kristin Zaslavsky

    Truth: one year I literally got dryer lint in a White Elephant.

  • Amber H

    The funniest/worst White Elephant gift item I ever received was a piece of welding wire and a used welding glove. We had a Christmas party at our house, I left my boyfriend to pick his own gift to give since I was busying planning and a wee bit curious to see what he would come up with on his own. It was by far the funniest gift and to this day everyone still talks about it!
    Love the new design of the blog :)

  • Brittany Rae

    Woman, your shit hates me. I have to load or re-load everything I use as a browser. Even my Chrome doesn’t work even though it says I have it. So Firefox it is…
    LOVE the new blog. However, it isn’t showing up on my blog roll anymore so I am gonna have to delete you and resubmit.
    AND those stamps are flipping beautiful.
    A few years back I was the Christmas elf for a company I worked for. I won every single time. How embarrassing for the elf to draw her own name. I have never white elephant’d- think I would be too pissed to participate well.
    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. No P.C. here.

  • Shannon

    One time I received a snowman cookie jar. You’d think that would be cute, right? Yet, it wasn’t. This particular one was just really tacky. Oh well….one day I will have the opportunity to re-gift it….

    The stamps are beautiful, as is the new blog style. Merry Christmas! :)

  • leanne koh

    Last year I gave a snuggie away. This year I gave away a few makeup products that I’ve gotten for free but know I’m never going to use. Still in the original packaging. That’s okay right?

  • Alice Choi

    I usually give food baskets (Harry and David) and gift cards (I know, lame) and for secret santa stuff, cheap or funny stuff. . and maybe coffee and coffee mugs? But one year, I scored and won a stainless steel blender. It was awesome and way over the $20 limit.

    LOVE the new site design. Nice.

  • Amy I. Bloom (

    I got ugly Santa socks in elementary school which sucked because they were lame & I grew up in a Jewish home.

    I dig the new blog design, but it’s not mobile friendly.

  • Ebony Rae Cunningham

    This year, I am doing the homemade thing. Giving brown sugar foot scrub @ my White Elephant exchange. The best. New site = DOPE.

  • Kelaine Devine

    I hand with a bunch of artists, so gift exchanges tend to be handmade. I love the crazy, hand-sewn Moulin Rouge pillow that I received one year. I’m makin owl ornaments for this years swap.

  • ThatsaPrettyMonogram

    I gave glitter pens from good oldTar-jay! Haha

  • Mrs. Pitt

    I’m with you. Goals mean nothing except words on paper if you don’t at least take ONE STEP toward them. That’s how I”ve started to look at it, maybe I don’t have to reach it, but for the love of god woman at least take ONE STEP toward them. (that’s me yelling at myself)

    Here’s to us, let’s do this.


  • Roller Scrapper

    Aww I just got all warm and fuzzy thinking that one day Sophia will see this post :)