For over twenty years the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 have held a Christmas Party. Our community is predominately Christian, and all of our Scouts during the years have been Christian, so it was no problem adding this to our yearly program. The parties were held for many years in various homes, but as the troop grew we needed to use a larger facility, so we moved the party to the city hall meeting rooms. Now that the troop is down in membership I hold the party at my home. And yes, we have at least two adults at each event. There is that youth protection thing we have to follow, you know.
The party begins with a movie. I remember the first party held at the home of one of the few families in town who owned a new thing called a video cassette player. It was a big clunky piece of equipment but it allowed us to watch a movie in the family room, on a 19 inch analog television, I believe. The equipment has changed over the years. Now we watch the movie from a dvd on a 46″ flat screen LCD HD television. Usually, we end the evening with a second movie.
Between the movies we have pizza, sodas, and snacks, followed by a gift exchange. During the earlier years we would name or number the gifts as the boys arrived, and each Scout would draw a piece of paper from a hat. It worked fine. During the last four or five years we have changed things a bit and made a game of it. The Scouts who wish to participate will bring a gift. These are put in the center of the room with the Scouts in a circle around them. We then pass dice around the circle. When a person rolls doubles he chooses a gift from the pile. Once everyone has a gift we open them to see what we received.
Now the fun begins. For the next ten minutes we roll dice again, passing the dice around the circle. If you roll doubles you get to change your gift with someone else in the circle. Once time runs out you keep the gift you have in front of you. It is a lot of fun, and can be very fast.
After the dice game we hand out the gifts brought for specific people, such as the scoutmaster and his assistant. I still own a few gifts (ornaments) that were given to me in the 1980’s. This year I received several gift cards to be spent at my favorite stores and restaurants. I think the families know me pretty well.
Since we began the Christmas parties, I have always made an effort to get each of the Scouts a present. I know, I know, that is weird. But I have enjoyed doing it. The gifts started very small, just a red Christmas stocking with a candy cane. They have grown a little over the years, but I always have a budget I stick to. The hard part is trying to find enough of something so I can give each Scout the same thing, and stick to that budget. The years when the troop had nearly 40 Scouts were a real challenge. I remember one year in particular when I filled two shopping carts with soccer balls that were on a great sale at a large department store. I received some strange looks from people and the clerk as I checked out.
The troop held this year’s party last weekend. We all had a great time. We watched two movies: Wall-E, and Indy Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The food was good. The dice game was fun. And the gifts were great. I want to thank each of the Scouts and their families for the gifts given to me this year. I do not know what I will get with the gift cards yet, but you know I will think of something.