A woman who participated in a white elephant gift exchange was flabbergasted by the gift she received from a "monster" in the group who thought it would be a good idea to pawn off a living, breathing pet to an unlucky recipient.
Brionna (@wunderbri) posted about her unfortunate experience in a viral TikTok where she slammed how the fish has now become a financial responsibility she didn't account for after heading into the White Elephant exchange.
Other TikTokers who saw her video seemed to share in her outrage, but there were other folks who encountered gift-givers who seemed to believe there wasn't anything wrong with wrapping up living fish as presents for Christmas.
"Did you guys do white elephant this year? I did white elephant this year. Went to a party and we did white elephant and I went first and I picked my gift and it was a 25 dollar Visa gift card. It was so cool. 25 dollars thanks, I love 25 dollars. And then we get to like the fourth or fifth person and um, someone, someone stole, someone stole my gift. And so I had to pick another gift, and I picked this bag," Brionna says, laughing into the camera.
"And it said fragile on it and said 'do not shake' and I'm like 'oooh' this is gonna be something interesting. I like bags that come with instructions so I picked that bag. I picked that bag and I opened the bag and inside of the bag there's a bowl and inside of the bowl there's a cup, and before I tell you what's in this cup I just I wanna I wanna ask what kind of monster would do this. What, what, what goes through a person's mind when they decide this is, this is a thing that I...don't know know who's gonna get this," she concedes.
"This is the thing that I think that I'm fine with anybody getting." She then reaches off-camera to grab a fish bowl, which shows a singular, colorful Beta fish swimming around in it. She slams it down on the table and the fish appears to be startled, "I'm so sorry," she tells the animal.
"What?" she implores into the camera. "What?" again. "Anyway, so let me tell you the origin of the term white elephant, which I just learned. So appropriate, was that the kings in Siam used to give white elephants as a gift to people they did not like."
Why wouldn't anyone want an elephant as a pet? Well, she explained why: the recipients of the gift were effectively being handed a burden they would then have to care for: "Because the upkeep of the elephant would, would ruin them financially."
It seems that Brionna feels there is a distinct correlation between the origin of the holiday "White Elephant" game and the fish that she received as part of the exchange.
"So all I was given for this living creature is a bowl and a little teeny tiny packet of food, just little pellets, just little pellets for a living, you've given me a living, you've given me a mouth to feed. So I just had to go spend my own money to, to get a tank, cause I can't, it doesn't even have a top on it, I have cats," she says, explaining that the fish bowl isn't going to be a suitable habitat for the beta fish.
She says she needed to buy a "tank and some rocks...and some little flaky food for him. And a little water filter cause it's already starting to get muggy in here."
Brionna just couldn't believe that someone would think it'd be a good idea to gift someone a fish as part of a White Elephant gift exchange: "Who does this? Like thank God he came home with me. I have some value for his poor little fishy life. What if he ended up with someone who just flushed him down the toilet? You don't know!"
She looks at the fish again before asking again: "What kind of a monster?" and then the clip ultimately cuts out. Numerous TikTokers seemed to agree with Brionna's outrage and thought that gifting a Betta fish was a really bad idea.
"A mouth to feed… in this economy?!?!" one person wrote. Another suggested that if she wants to care for the little guy, she could hop onto a community forum and learn the ways of Betta care: "i did not watch the whole video omg PLEASE go to the betta fish subreddit for betta care! they are so incredibly helpful! you will fall in love-"
It turns out Brionna wasn't the only person to get a living, swimming fish as a White Elephant gift, however: "My husband got a fish for white elephant right before we got married. We had him for 3 years haha. RIP Macrelmore"
Someone else penned: "The fact that I’ve been to more then one party where the favors were pets… totally insane."
And a person who works for a popular pet store chain said that they've come across a lot of folks who thought gifting fish would be a great idea as well: "The fact that I’ve been to more then one party where the favors were pets… totally insane."
The financial burden of being handled a fish was a problem another TikTok user who responded to Brionna's post said that they were also forced to endure: "I knew it as soon as you said bowl. My daughter got one last year too. $10 limit. We spent $200 on supplies," they said.