They are evil. Every one of them. My sisters, my brother-in-laws, nieces, nephews, even my mom. Evil I tell you.

One of my sisters, who will remain nameless here and in my Will, decided we should forgo gifts last year. She suggested we buy a “$1.00 to $10.00” gift and play the game, Dirty Santa. Oh sure. Like you can buy a gift for a dollar? What about tax? Not that I tried, mind you. Ahem.

This game is like seeing your favorite item sold on Ebay right out from under you at the last minute; and all you can do is stare in disbelief. It is a game that pits sister against sister, son against mother, and before it\’s over, you realize that blood kin means somebody\’s gonna bleed.

At first, I thought the idea a good one. No shopping at the malls for last minute gifts. No standing in line after Ho-Ho day exchanging the Solid Platinum, One-of-a-Kind Toilet Paper Holder that your other sister, (also out of the Will) just knew you would go bonkers over. Mostly, no credit card bill at the end of the month requiring a second mortgage. So I thought, what\’s not to like, right? Plenty…read on.

We gathered around the tree, sang a few Christmassy songs, toasted to the past year and all the blessings, toasted to the new year of course, and…then, it was like someone flipping on a light switch. Everyone started darting around the room grabbing up seats, and giving each other looks that said, “If you get in my way, I\’ll kidnap your dog;” and that was just Mom.

I thought to myself…

“Will mom go for the box of chocolate covered cherries (minus one or two of them), or hold out for the 10-dollars worth of lottery tickets my son tried to disguise in that big box? Will my brother-in-law have bags of deer jerky under the tree? If so, which one is it? I want it. It\’s mine, mine I tell ya!

Why is everyone looking at me? Do I have something on my face? Is it chocolate? Why is the neighbor\’s kid here and why is he looking at my feet? Weird kid. Deer jerky…deer jerky…hmm.”

Sisters began foaming at the mouth. My sons walked the room trying to intimidate the younger set, mom inches closer to the gifts.

Is she shaking that package? What is wrong with these people? Which one is the deer jerky? Where are my shoes? If I am last, they will all be sorry. Uh huh! Payback time. That will teach my son to tell someone how old I am. Where\’s the weird kid…and where the devil are my shoes?

And so, Dirty Santa began.

As we were all leaving Mom\’s and saying our good-byes and “I love yous,” Mom comes to me with outstretched arms and hugs a little tighter than usual. I\’m thinking, “Ahh…now that\’s love,” but she whispers, “I have your cat. If you want to see it again, bring me a FULL box of chocolate-covered cherries. Got it?”

NOW you know why they call it, DIRTY Santa.