Roy Exum: Let The Games Begin

Monday, December 17, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

It makes no difference if you are in the “Second Grade Sunday School Class” or must use a walker to take your place in “The God’s Waiting Room Sunday School Class for Seniors.” We all know Christmas fun begins in earnest today. Christmas is not until a week from this Tuesday, but if you play it right, you can have just as much fun this week as next.

Today I am going to present the most-fun game for office parties, the last day of school, or anywhere four of more gather because “The Left-Right Gift Exchange” can be a hoot if you put your imagination at work. The way it works is everyone who plays sits in a big circle, holding the gift they brought that serves as the ticket to play.

A narrator – with a loud booming voice – reads a left-right story and every time the player hears the word ‘right,’ they pass the gift they are holding that direction. When they hear ‘left,’ the exchange gifts go the opposite direction. When the story ends, the gift each person will be holding belongs to that person.

There are two types of Left-Right. The “closed” game is where each gift is gift-wrapped, where no one realizes what is being passed until afterwards when the final gifts are unwrapped. But I think the “open” game is more fun because as each player peers at the parade of prizes, there are some items you want and others you hope you don’t get stuck with.

It is important the value of each gift is roughly the same. For instance, last year at Bud’s on Brainerd Road 12 people each bought one of the new IPA beers, which was pretty clever as the un-opened cans were passed about. But at the end of the game each participant had to actually drink the whole can he/she was holding at the end of the game and the facial expressions were priceless.

Some people play for candy. At a Brainerd church they put fancy desserts in the sacks to feed the Christmas party. Some people use $10 fast food gift cards and the hail and hardy crowd uses promissory notes for two hours of yard work, hauling junk away, and painting a side room. (This is cool because ‘work cards’ can be passed forward, maybe to an elderly lady who needs to clean her garden, etc.

If you will Google “Left-Right” stories there is an abundance of stories that can be used, everything from funny to R-rated. But, remember, the best Left-Right games include three or more generations and little kids don’t think cuss words are funny. A good tip is that the narrator should not play in a game he “calls” but he can speed it up or slow it down, depending on how many ‘fumblers’ still have trouble with their left, their “other” left, and their right.

Again, the gifts can be anything. A careful arranger will tell half the crowd to bring something they would like to win, and the other to bring a gift of equal value they would never buy. Don’t worry, what will show up in the sacks are usually hilarious.

Here’s a version of ‘The Christmas Story’ that has been adapted to the Left-Right game:

* * *


In those days, Caesar Augustus decided to count everyone LEFT living in the whole Roman world. Joseph LEFT, taking Mary with him RIGHT to his town of Bethlehem to register.

When they arrived, there were no rooms LEFT. All of the inns in Bethlehem were RIGHT full. There was just nowhere LEFT for them to stay. Finally, someone offered to let them stay RIGHT in their stable.

Mary was pregnant and while in Bethlehem the RIGHT time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a boy RIGHT there. RIGHT there in a Bethlehem stable, the Savior of the world was born. Mary wrapped him with LEFT over strips of cloth and laid him RIGHT in a manger.

Some shepherds who lived RIGHT near Bethlehem, were out at night RIGHT in their fields watching over their sheep. RIGHT then, they saw a bright light. The light was so bright that they had to close their eyes. When they opened them again, a beautiful angel was standing RIGHT in the sky RIGHT above them with his arms LEFT opened wide. The shepherds looked RIGHT at each other and were LEFT feeling very afraid.

Then the angel spoke RIGHT to them. "Do not be afraid. I'm RIGHT here to bring you the good news LEFT for all people. Today RIGHT in Bethlehem a baby has been born, He is the RIGHT one, the one that will save the world. You will know the RIGHT baby because He will be LEFT wrapped in clothes, and laying RIGHT in a manger."

RIGHT then, a large group of angels appeared RIGHT there, and they said, "Glory to God, and peace be to all people LEFT on the earth."

The shepherds were LEFT amazed and excited. They had to go RIGHT away to see this baby the angels were talking about. They LEFT as fast as they could, and soon found Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus RIGHT were they angels said they would be.

The shepherds fell RIGHT to their knees when they saw Jesus, and were LEFT filled with joy that they had found the Savior. They stayed for a short time and then LEFT . As soon as they LEFT they began shouting RIGHT in the streets and telling everyone LEFT in town about what they had seen.

RIGHT after Jesus was born, wise men traveling RIGHT on their camels noticed a very strange star RIGHT in the sky. They knew that the RIGHT One who would save the world had been born.

RIGHT away King Herod got very worried. He assembled all of the important people LEFT in the area and asked them where this baby had been born. The people replied, "RIGHT in Bethlehem."

RIGHT then King Herod called the wise men to meet with him RIGHT away. He asked them to go and find the child RIGHT away. “RIGHT as soon as you find Him,” he said, “ tell me, so that I can go to Him RIGHT away and worship Him."

After the wise men spoke to the King, they LEFT to find the baby. They didn't know RIGHT where the He was, but followed the star LEFT in the east until it hung RIGHT over the place where Jesus was. When they found Jesus, and they bowed RIGHT down and worshiped him.

RIGHT after that, they opened the gifts they had brought Jesus... gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then they LEFT to find a place to sleep for the night.

That night the wise men all had the same dream RIGHT as they were sleeping. They were not to go RIGHT back and tell King Herod where they had found Jesus. King Herod wanted to kill Jesus because he was jealous of Him. So, the wise men LEFT for home another way so that Herod would not know the RIGHT direction they had come from. They also decided RIGHT then that they would not tell King Herod anything about what they had seen.

When the wise men LEFT, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Arise, take Jesus and Mary, and run RIGHT to Egypt. Joseph got up RIGHT away and woke up Mary. She quickly picked Jesus RIGHT up and they LEFT in the middle of the night for Egypt where they would be safe.

RIGHT after King Herod died an angel appeared again RIGHT away to Joseph and told him to go RIGHT to a place called Nazareth. And that's RIGHT where Jesus grew up.

* * *


* -- "Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling." —Edna Ferber

* -- "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" – Bob Hope

* -- "May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve."

* -- "I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph." – Shirley Temple

* -- "Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind." – Mary Ellen Chase

* -- "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

* -- "Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." – Calvin Coolidge

* -- "Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and his present remembered." – Phyllis Diller

* -- "I heard the bells on Christmas Day / Their old familiar carols play / And wild and sweet, the words repeat / Of peace on earth, good-will to men." – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

* -- “Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” — The Polar Express

* -- "At Christmas, all roads lead home." – Marjorie Holmes

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