Our Yankee Book Swap Christmas Tradition

In my corner of the world -- Canada's east coast, to be exact -- we're not known for being overtly alpha in our dealings with others. We're a pretty beta bunch out here.

What's to get worked up about? Times are tough, but for us times have always been tough. Our forests grow on rocks, for heaven's sake.

Which takes me to my writer's group, the Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, and our annual book swap tradition which takes place during our Christmas Potluck party.

Not only are we a collection of east coast Canadians, who as we have established, are pretty chillin' about most things. We are also a group of writers, recognized widely as introverts by nature in most cases. Not only that, but we're romance writers, who love happy endings and have the optimistic outlooks that go with that preference.

However, when it comes to the book swap part of our Christmas Potluck, the gloves come off and it's time to laugh until we're crying as we ruthlessly steal one another's books.

How it works is this:

Everyone brings a wrapped present, usually consisting of a few paperback books or a hardcover book, either romance titles of any subgenre or a craft-of-writing book. Note: the craft-of-writing -- and lately the business-and-marketing -- books are usually the most stolen gifts.

The gifts are all piled together until the end of the party, when the number of guests is counted, then everyone picks a number and proceeds to choose a gift from the pile as her number is called.

The early number-holders open the gifts and show them to all so the following guests can figure out if they want to open a new gift, or if they want to steal.

If someone steals your gift, you can choose to open a new gift or you can steal someone else's gift. This can lead to a round of stealing that leads to raucous laughter at such feats of keeping track of which book went where, and at sheer daring-do.

Book steal in progress

Stealin' giftz

Shock and delight at who is doing the stealing

Applauding a well-played steal

A much-stolen book finds its final owner

To the victor goes the spoils!


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