The only holiday parties I remember attending were those at school right before Christmas break.  I’m sure that I attended get togethers with church friends or my parents’ work parties but I cannot recall a single specific event while growing up though I found a photo from a party.  I do, however, vividly recall one particular Christmas party that I attended with Larry.

Christmas 1984, the singles group at my church had a white elephant Christmas party that I attended.  My gift began a tradition for future groups that lasted several years.  Before I tell you my gift I have to explain a few things.

I was an elementary education major at OU and one semester in my junior year I took an art class designed to help me teach art to young children.  For the assigned paper mache project, I made a man that stood about 24″ h.  Since I couldn’t make his ears look good, I exaggerated them by making them into triangular shaped ears that stood out to the sides of his head.  After the class ended the professor returned my project (I think I got an A) and I put it in my closet.  The following year, when I was doing my student teaching with kindergarten and first graders I brought that paper mache man to class and told that kids his name was Larry Listening Ears and whenever I brought him out it was time to listen.  The kids loved Larry and would often get him themselves if the classroom got too noisy or the other kids were not listening.  I loved Larry too!

One weekend someone broke into the classroom and ransacked the place and assaulted Larry by slicing him across the stomach, which nearly severed him in half and he was almost bent over backwards with all of his newspaper innards exposed.  The sight of the classroom frightened the kids and they were especially upset at what had happened to Larry.  Since Larry could not easily be repaired and the kids were fairly traumatized by the events, I took Larry home with the intent of repairing him for another class.

The night of the 1984 white elephant Christmas party when I saw Larry in my closet I knew that I wasn’t going to be a teacher and I didn’t know how to repair him.  So, I thought it was time for me to share his story so I wrote Larry’s biography.  Then I wrapped him in Christmas paper and took him as my gift.  He was a highly desired item and conversation piece and was traded throughout the evening.  Finally, the evening was over and he had a new home to go to and I was pleased that Larry Listening Ears was again useful.  That was day he left my life but not the end of his story.

The next day I went to church and learned that the person who ‘won’ Larry left him in the shower of the home where the party was held.  The next morning when the owner pulled the shower curtain back she was so frightened by what she saw that she let out a loud shriek frightening her husband who came running to her rescue.  When they recognized that it was Larry Listening Ears, they realized that someone continued the white elephant game by leaving Larry there and they laughed.  They decided to keep Larry and for the next several years he was the main white elephant gift at those Christmas parties.  I don’t know what became of him and I wish I had a photo of Larry but I do not.  Perhaps the story creates a strong enough image in your mind so that a photo isn’t really necessary.

This is my submission for the Advent Calendar Christmas Memories 2009