Raffle Ruffled


Usually I pride myself on my ability to come up with catchy post titles, but I’m just going to hang my head in shame on this one and pretend that it doesn’t exist after today. Not every swing can result in a home run, okay?

Calli Fun Fact #98: she has to Google most sports references that she makes just to confirm that she is referring to the correct sport. See the basketball reference above as an example.

Family reunions—the topic of this week’s post—provide way too much content to fit into a 600-1000 word article. Contrary to popular opinion, I actually get some enjoyment from family reunions. Although they tend to make themselves scarce on my father’s side, my mom’s family holds one every year. It’s a large event (kind of hard not to be, since my grandpa had eleven siblings), and the families of each of my grandfather’s siblings take turns running it every year. Despite this, there are several constants for each reunion: there’s always a table piled with food and desserts, the infamous Cedar City wind makes an appearance, and I spend the entire time hiding behind my mom and smiling at people who seem to know my entire life story (and I spend the entire conversation internally panicking because I don’t even recognize their face from previous years, much less remember their name or what family they are from). It’s quite exhausting.

The games and entertainment tend to shift and change every year, but the one thing you can count on being the same is the crown jewel of the reunion: the raffle.

Excluding the fishing pond, the raffle was my favorite part of the family reunion as a child. Every year, each family in attendance brings something to enter into the raffle: a toy, a crocheted blanket, a bucket of candy. The items are then split into the three distinct categories of child, teenager, and adult. Tickets are bought and entered into the three raffles, and the money made is used to finance the cost of the reunion for that year. It’s a cost effective and fun way to make sure the tradition carries on. There’s usually an interesting selection, and it’s always fun when a guy’s name is drawn for Strawberry Shortcake glasses and perfume, especially when the lucky recipient is one of my brothers.

As much as I love the raffle, as I sat listening to names being called this last Saturday, I couldn’t help but take mental note of some things that irk me.

My family usually buys around twenty tickets and splits them amongst the six of us. This year, we put five in the adult section and five in the teenager, then placed the remaining ten in the children. The rest of us kids are getting old enough that we don’t care as much about winning anything, and it’s always fun to watch my little sister Brooke win something, so we skewed it in her favor this year.

There are some families that take the raffle very seriously. I think they use the entire year to squirrel away extra money to use for this raffle, so by the time summer rolls around they are able to buy over $500 dollars worth of tickets for their family. That’s their choice, I guess, and if they spend the money on the tickets then I can’t really get made when they win half of the raffle table. But things tend to get a little old when the same five names are being called over and over again.

Even in the years when the prize distribution is more even between families, the Pollocks tend to get the short end of the raffle ticket. The last name “Pollock” is only uttered from the mouth of the announcer about once in a blue moon, and even then we don’t exactly luck out with the good prizes.

I learned to never get my hopes up the hard way. I think I was around seven or eight at the time of this reunion, but I still carry the scars. During my usual scope-out of the prize table, my eyes had chanced across a kitten stuffed animal (or it might of been a dog…goes to show how much of an impact this has had on my life). I instantly fell in love; how could I not when it was so soft and cute and looked at me with those “take me home to live with your 78 other stuffed animals” eyes?


Long story short, I spent the entire reunion fantasizing over my new fake pet, and I ended up bursting into tears when the kitten landed in the hands of another little girl, who had already won about ten other prizes at that point.

Then there was the year where I watched my cousins win things, patiently waiting for my turn, and when my name was called I ended up winning a salsa cookbook. In the shape of a salsa jar. Needless to say, there were some tears at that reunion too.

I would just like to know who thought a cookbook belonged in the child’s raffle. Some children can’t even operate a microwave without blowing something up, much less make salsa cornbread.


I’m near positive that this is the same cookbook that gave me so much grief as a child.

While we are in the area of misplaced objects, people outside the intended demographic of “child” entering the children’s raffle is another one of those raffle things that ruffle my feathers. It makes me mad enough to start physically shaking when I see a 40-year-old win the coloring book my sister or one of my little cousins could have easily enjoyed. The same goes for the opposite, when some parent entered their child’s name in the adult category. Your kid doesn’t need that illegally-soft comfort blanket more than this socially anxious English major who has no idea what she’s going to do with her life, thank you very much. Also, someone please tell the eight-year-olds to stop placing their names in the teenager raffle. My iTunes account thrives solely off of gift-cards, and way back in my day, kids their age maybe had an MP3 player, and that was only if they were lucky or had rich parents.

As mad as this raffle can make me sometimes, the promise of a reward keeps me coming back each year. It’s not much different than family, really. If I say enough names I’ll eventually have to come across the name of my great aunt four times removed. It’s only a matter of time before I draw the right name out of the hat, right?

Maybe I should have spent more money on tickets. I need all the help I can get.



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