Every year I go to a couple parties where the guests are instructed to bring untagged gifts to participate in a gift exchange. Sometimes there's a theme; there's nearly always a price limit. You get your gift by participating in the present-stealing game (see thorough description here).
I grew up in a house where there were just the two of us kids, and there wasn't much competition between us for toys. We tended to draw out the gift opening as long as possible, with one person opening something at a time while everyone else watched.
So two years ago, this game was new to me. I was disoriented by the speed, the competition, the-- hey, wait a minute! You just TOOK that right outta my lap! But I really wanted to keep it!!
This was a party with my sister-in-law (a truly delightful person who would never steal your gift if it weren't expressly part of the game) and a number of her friends (generally very nice, except perhaps when it comes to gift-stealing). The game began and I soon found myself holding a lovely duvet-style throw with snowflakes all over it. Perfect!
But it was not to be. I sat bewildered as the throw was whisked away and something not nearly as good was dumped in my lap instead. (Oy! Candles!) Getting into the spirit of things, I soon stole it back. It could not last, however, and the snowflake throw went to someone else, someone absurdly deserving who was planning to cuddle her toddler and infant son in it. It would be churlish of me to still want the throw, but I showed all the skill of a toddler myself in hiding my disappointment. (They even teased me about this the next year.)
A few days later, opening gifts at my sister-in-law's, I was surprised to find a package for me from my mother, who wasn't even there. (Our two families get on fine, but live in different states, so we drive a lot around the holidays.) Yes, it was the identical snowflake throw, just for me! It seems my mom remembered my story of the duvet that got away, and had enlisted my sister-in-law as her shopping agent (Mama was the best shopper there ever was), who found another one to give to me.
It's the last Christmas gift my mother got me. Last year she was too ill to shop, and this year she's not here.
Now I play the present-stealing game with magnanimity. I cheerfully accept the ugliest candles-- although I do put up a good fight first, boldly snatching packages from laps. I know that sometimes, if you've been very good, and very lucky, you will get exactly what you want.