For the most part, I love Christmas. I love having time off from life to relax, to catch up with the people I care about, the public permission to spend an entire day eating and doing not much else, and I’d be a liar if I didn’t mention the receiving of free stuff. I also love that Christmas is in summer in Australia – so it means BBQs, beach trips and iced tea! But there is one bit that always gives me the creeps – the workplace/other group Secret Santas.
Maybe where you’re from they’re referred to as a Kris Kringle, or something else, but the basic point is that everyone is allocated one other person in the group to buy a present for anonymously. Often, especially in work settings, this turns into a mass exchange of joke gifts, which depending on the personality can either work well or be a giant flop.
My introverted nature hates this tradition! I really dislike the idea of someone who doesn’t really know me that well buying me a gift which I have to open publically (without knowing who it is and therefore how to respond to the gift) and react appropriately to it, mostly for everyone else’s entertainment. Gift giving is like all aspects of relationships for me – it should mean something, it should be significant to the receiver, and frankly, should be without the groupthink that comes with everyone else participating and expecting you to too.
I’ve pretty much only encountered such relationships in work settings, and I find this really awkward. Generally speaking, people I work with are work colleagues, not my best friends. Therefore, they don’t know me well enough to buy me a great gift. Which leaves two options – I get something that is well intentioned but I’m never going to use, and will therefore have to cart home to dispose of, or it will be a joke gift, which I won’t keep, and will have to cart home to dispose of. Anyone seeing a theme here? Abandoned puppies at Christmas are really sad (in fact I hope when we have a house one day we’ll adopt a dog, not get a new-born), but so are abandoned gifts of all varieties. Waste not, want not. Except if you’re part of a Secret Santa. I presume other people do this too, and I don’t particularly want my hard earned cash going straight into the bin. Even if it is a Salvation Army bin.
In these situations in work, I’ve always tried to get myself into the position of being the person allocating the names so I can remove myself from the draw. Cheeky? Probably, but there’s just no point participating if the whole process feels like pulling my own teeth.
So, essentially, if you ever receive a gift from me, know that it is genuinely intentioned, with no hint of obligation on my part. It will also be thought out, and I will have tried my hardest to find or make something for you that I really think you’ll like or get something from. I share my time, thoughts and resources specifically and intentionally, and Secret Santas feel like everything I’m not.
Fellow introverts – who else wants to punch their computer screen when they see that email come around each December?