OWATONNA, Minn. -- A pair of fuzzy brown moleskin pants were traded again this Christmas and this year Roy Collette has to figure out how to retrieve the trousers from a station wagon filled with welded steel generators.
Collette and his brother-in-law, Larry Kunkel, have been trading the pants back and forth for 21 years and the two have tried to outdo each other in packaging the gift.
This year Collette received the pants encased in a junked station wagon filled with 170 old steel generators that were welded together.
He said he'll get to work on taking the wagon apart after the holidays.
The pants may be hidden in the generators, but then again, 'they could be in the tires or anywhere,' he said. 'I'll just have to take it apart very carefully.'
The pants were originally given to Kunkel by his mother in 1965, but he found they froze solid in Minnesota winters. So he gave them to Collette.
The next Christmas, Collette gave them back and the tradition began.
The gift giving escalated to the point that the package became more important than the pants.
One year Collette received his gift hidden in an old car that had been crushed into a three-foot cube. Another year, the pants arrived in a 17-foot rocket filled with concrete.
Other wrappings have included a welded-shut 600-pound safe, a 6 -foot truck tire filled with nine tons of concrete and a 225-pound sealed, steel ashtray.
The rules of the exchange included unwrapping the pants without damaging them and using 'legal and moral' methods of wrapping, Collette said. No money is used in the wrapping -- only junk parts.
Collette said he tried to stop the exchange a few years ago and told Kunkel to give them back to his mother.
Kunkel agreed, so Collette had the pants cleaned and Kunkel was to mount them in a bullet-proof display case.
Just before Christmas, the pants arrived back at Collette's house, encased in glass. But the glass was encased in a 1974 car filled with concrete.
Last year Collette put the pants in a 4-ton replica of a Ruibik's Cube. The cube was made of concrete that had been baked in a kiln and covered with 2,000 board feet of lumber.
'I know he (Kunkel) was into the first of June before he got them out,' Collette said.