Secret Schmucky Santa (Classic Repost)

28 Dec

December 28, 2011

Things have sure changed since I wrote this three years ago. A new job, a real office, and people who are professional, as opposed to the weirdos and misanthropes you’ll read about below, myself included. And not only has my environment changed, I have too. I am so not the same guy you’ll read about below.

from December 20, 2008

My new place does Secret Santa. That’s where you pick a name and give that person a present. I always used to cheat. I’d just keep picking names until I found someone I wanted to buy for and stuck the other names back in. Sure it went against the spirit of the thing, but if I wanted to buy a pair of sweat socks for some biological toilet then I’d donate to the kids on tv with flies on their faces. Oh sure, they’re hungry. And sure, they’re poor. And yes, they have homes that Brooklyn homeless laugh at, and of course their country has the gross domestic product of an average kindergarten class penny fair and the main export is disease, but man alive, could you just brush the damn flies off your face? Look at that commercial- the flies are crawling in their eyes. How could you let them crawl around your iris like that? Have you corneas? The flies that crawl in their mouths are different. That’s protein. Just swallow. But jeez, flies in the eyes? That’s just wrong.

This year I forgot to pick so I was given the last name in the box. It didn’t matter though, I barely know anybody and quite frankly, I’m not sure why I put my name in. It was just some silly impulse to fit in. Like I ever will. Or want to. It took me six years at Lafayette before I even knew we had a football team.

But I did it and then the other shoe dropped- we give gifts for AN ENTIRE WEEK. Monday through Thursday we give little things, for a couple of dollars, and on Friday we give a bigger thing for around twenty.


I gave a thermal coffee mug which cost me nothing because when my brother went grocery shopping I stuck it in his cart. I picked the only one without a Santa on it because the person getting it was Jewish. I got a nice Ansel Adams calendar. It had great black and white nature photography. I love b+w photography. I think it was regift. It had a crushed corner and the price was way above the limit. Oh, and it was from 2007. (No, not really.)


I gave a small box of Whitman chocolate and some candy canes. Again, no cost- my brother’s grocery cart. I got a small handwritten note. A love letter? No. A hate letter? More likely, but no. A death threat? Well, I don’t think anyone I ever worked with wanted to kill me (except for Kathy last year, but she needed me too much) so that was out. It was a handwritten note asking me to go the cafeteria and get a free bagel and juice. Nice, but hardly personal. This was school stuff. It cost the giver nothing because she runs Café McKee and didn’t lay out a cent. OK, technically, I didn’t either, but it was akin to me giving an eraser and some chalk.


I gave a small metal reindeer picture holder. Cost to me? Nothing. The family went holiday shopping the night before and when Mom was buying my brother something I just stuck it on the counter. Hey, what’s $3.99 between family? I got a bag of an unknown brand of chocolate coins. Before you think that chocolate coins are appropriate gifts for a Jew at Hanukkah, consider that the coins were chocolate versions of American coins, with a smiling George Washington on the bag. I tried a coin, tasted what may have been chocolate that passed it’s expiration date sometime in the last century, and chucked out coins.


For the first time, I spent some money- $1.99 for a box (½ price) of Ferro Rocher candy. I got a mug. Pretty nice, standard, actually, with a small ribbon that said ‘excellent teacher.’ Bearing in mind the bad week I had, I tossed out the ribbon. It made a small super-sonic boom on the way to the trash can. The mug is in my closet, waiting to be regifted to the woman in the copy room next week. This gift was too big to fit in my mailbox. When that happens, we just put the gift on the table next to the mailboxes. For some reason my Secret Santa asked Elena next door to bring it to me. For anonymity, Elena went out of her way to tell me that it was from my Secret Santa, not her. Then it turned into a Seinfeld routine. (Not that I wouldn’t give you a gift, not this particular gift, we could exchange gifts, etc.) I think I better get her something because she might have talked herself into getting me something. I wonder if she’d like a slightly rumpled Ansel Adams calendar? For my part, the best gift I could get next week is a couple of days of ‘I’m staying in my room, don’t come in, anyone.’ (Unless it is Elena with a gift.)


I went to Rite Aid, home of all last-minute Secret Santa shoppers, and bought a gift set with a couple of cocoa mugs, some cocoa, and an Irish whiskey flavored powder to put on the rim. I have no idea what that does because when I drink hot chocolate I pour the powder in a mug, add hot water from the tap, nuke it for a minute, and stir. That’s my level of sophistication. I got a Cross pen and pencil set. That was bad. I have bad associations with Cross pen and pencil sets. Almost every job I ever left, I was given a Cross set. I have, no joke, three sets, (now four) in my dresser drawer. Maybe she knows something I don’t. That is bad juju.

Oddly enough my Secret Santa was the same person I was buying for. I knew this a week ago when the person sat down and subtlety pumped me for information. ‘Do you like chocolate? Is that a crossword puzzle book? Can I look at it? What did it cost?’

I also today used the free bagel and juice note for breakfast. (No, I didn’t eat it- I redeemed it.) I had planned to not use it at all. It was just too cheesy. But my Secret Santa, after identifying herself and telling me how much she loved the cocoa thing, acted offended that I didn’t get my bagel, and should she send one down? “Oh man, I forgot all about it! I’ve been so busy! Yes, send me down a bagel with cream cheese and an orange juice! Thanks, you’re the best!”

Next year, God willing, when I’m working way, way out of the public sector, I hope to not have to do a Secret Santa at all. I am just not cut out for it. I like who I like, ignore the rest, and don’t play the game. No wonder I am so beloved.

2 Responses to “Secret Schmucky Santa (Classic Repost)”

  1. Nuchtchas December 28, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    If you need to get rid of your cross pens you can send them here 🙂 I always wanted one, in my family graduation gifts were always an attaché case from Land’s End with your initials on it and cross pens (cross pencils if you were lucky) I got the bag, but not the pens, that’s the problem when divorce happens around graduation years (it lasted almost ten years).

    As for Secret Santa gift exchange, I often like them, but usually when I know the people, when working with more than 30 people it can get too big to even consider. I liked the idea of “hand made gift exchanges” it could be as cheesy as glitter on construction paper and often was silly little items that cost almost nothing to make, but were the gifts I held onto for years.


    • bmj2k December 28, 2011 at 6:11 am #

      Hand made gifts always end up meaning more in the long run. There are ussually nice memories attached.


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