Over the years I would participate in the Secret Santa activity if it were organized, but I did so reluctantly. My reluctance was due to the fact that I didn’t want to disappoint my recipient. It was apparent that there were those who put a lot of thought and effort into their gift buying and were diligent in delivering a weekly surprise. I didn’t like the pressure. If I knew I would draw the name of one of the guys, I would feel less anxious about it, but that was never the case.
One year I drew the name of the Queen of Secret Santa. She was the organizer and known for overspending and providing very thoughtful gifts. OH NO, I thought. Does she have the same expectations for HER Santa? I seconded another colleague to do my buying and wrapping. She was happy to do so. All I had to do was give her the money. It was great. The Queen was thrilled with her gifts, and when we had the final gathering when each recipient tried to guess who their Santa was, she had no idea it was me. Why would she guess it was me? The weekly gifts were appropriate and insightful.
During my final year as principal I was one of a few males on staff who participated; albeit reluctantly. On the day of drawing names, get this, I drew my own name. SWEET! This was perfect. I would be participating but not feeling any pressure. This was the best of both worlds.
During the weeks of Secret Santa, it was customary to place thank-you notes on the back of the staff room door. I didn’t want anyone to think, He doesn’t say thank you? Why is he not thanking his Santa? So I decided to play it up.
Dear Secret Santa, thank you so much for the bottle of Italian wine. That was a great year.
Thank you for the dinner-for-two. That’s our favourite restaurant. How did you know Santa?
I believe it was the day before the Christmas break. Participants sat in a circle in the staff room and tried to guess who their Santas were. As they went around the room, a few guessed that their Santa was me. Interesting, I wondered what they received as gifts?
Finally, it was my turn. I was the last person. Now all the Santas had been exposed. If I had said, “I think my Santa was Sue or Anne”, I might be accused of not listening (that happened enough as it was), so I confessed. I had picked my own name.
I anticipated raucous laughter; you know, in a good way, like, “Oh that’s so funny. You da man. That’s hilarious.”
I don’t think I have seen so many, You’re an idiot expressions all at once.
I suddenly felt all alone.
But that’s the Secret Santa experience I remember as being the best ever.