Who hates Secret Santa? I do.

The week before drawing names for “Secret Santa” was hell during most of my elementary school years. The week after was worse.

Drawing a name out of a hat left too much to chance. What if I got Heidi who recently hated me because I told Robert to push her out of the middle swing at recess; or Arnold who eats raw onions and stands in the hall while the rest of us recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Why does it have to be secret and random? Why can’t we just give presents to people we know like us and aren’t weird?

Once names are drawn you go through a week of :

Teasing, “If you tell me who you got I’ll tell you…just kidding”.

Taunting, “I heard Tony got your name and switched with Matthew”.

Lies, “Your Secret Santa really likes you A LOT!”

In 5th grade everyone knows the best present from a SS is a Book of Lifesavers, next up, a Fuzzy Wuzzy Bear Soap. The more you wash, the less fuzzy it gets. I’m pretty sure there’s a prize deep inside if you practice good hygiene regularly for a couple of weeks. I can count at least 6 times I’ve wrapped up the old stand-by, Silly Putty.

When it was my turn, the package I received had the right size and weight; it smelled of orange, lime, cherry and lemon. It had to be Lifesavers, I deduced to myself with a smirk.

Wrong.

There’s a reason Mom said “wipe that smirk off your face” repeatedly as we grew up. It signaled oncoming disaster for the smirker.

Inside was a bar of soap decorated with sequins and ribbons adhered by stick pins. My disappointment transformed quickly into, what I hope,was an expression of surprise and delight. (Tact and an appreciation for creativity were concepts I was slowly working on.)

Last week an unwrapped box of “Christmas Mugs for Two” was in my mailbox. “For a Special Friend” was written oddly on a Post-It note. If I wrote with a pencil using my teeth I could replicate it.

It looked suspiciously like a SS gift.

What does it say about me to immediately assume it was from Pen and no one else, my stepfather, who died 2 1/2 years ago?

I studied the outside before opening it. I have no special friends. This must be a mistake. Maybe it’s something awful in a nice box, like an ear or anthrax.

I texted my sister:

“Did you send this? Check out the message.” (Photo attached).

“Nope. Watching Hallmark Christmas Shows.”

“Should I open it?”, I wrote.

“Dunno”, she replied.

I held a towel over my nose and mouth and opened the box carefully.

Wow! Two nice mugs inside just like the picture on the outside.

“Who the f*ck?”, I asked myself, all night long.

The next morning I wrote Sister Dee, “It was Brother Had! He left the gift!” I teased.

She immediately called and asked how I knew.

“He sounded funny when I asked him. He’s the best at pranks.” I taunted.

I continued on, “Okay, I know it wasn’t him I just wanted to trick you into confessing. The initials VATC on the note have me stumped. I looked it up and it’s a company in Florida- Video Awareness Technology and Consulting.”

“Interesting. I looked it up as well and it was the Vermont Attorneys Title Corporations”, she said patiently.

She continued, “Who’s been to a lawyer lately?”.

“Me. I just did my will, and by the way you’re responsible for burning my journals.”

There was a deep sigh on her end.

“Who just sold her 9 year old consignment business and had some stuff leftover?”

“Oh my gosh! I knew it was you!” I lied.

Perhaps the best presents are those that show you are present. It takes time to decorate a bar of soap as it does to plan a prank.

Just knowing that you are in someone’s thoughts and that they are in yours is better than some old Fuzzy Wuzzy.

Namaste – Happy 2019 from anta-Say