Sunday, December 17, 2006
Secret Freakin' Santa
I know, I've been a bad blogger lately. Y'all can line up to administer the spankings later. It's been busy.

But I'm carving out a few minutes because I have to rant. It's a well-deserved, incredulous, holiday-related rant. And it's something I'm not especially upset about but am still feeling self-righteous, so it's really the best of all possible worlds.

So. Being the new guy at work, I decided to be a good team player and sign up for the Secret Santa thing, which, it was explained to me, was a five-day affair. We each drew one name, and each day of the week we were supposed to give them their gift, either by leaving it on their desk or hiding it in their mailbox, whatever. Okay, not a problem. Maximum total cost of $15 for the week, so it was really just meant to spread holiday cheer without breaking the bank. Gotcha.

So I went out and bought $15 worth of small but thoughtful Walmart gifts... mostly in the Cute Office Supplies genre, like a nice address book and fancy paper clips. I actually spent $15 on four gifts, and for the fifth day I made a lovely soft scarf out of remnants of yarn I already had at home. Aren't I good? Aren't I sweet? Aren't I just the epitome of Christmas Spirit?!?!?

I hope that the Gods of Karma were smiling on me at least enough to make it so that my recipient, Shannon (shhhh... don't tell her yet!), wasn't the person who drew my name in return. Because whoever got my name is a CHEAPSKATE. I'm sorry, I know, that's not what the holidays are all about, blah blah blah - but seriously. The first day, I got two pieces of chocolate ($1). The second day I got a package of mints ($1 - and I'm being optimistic). The third day I got a homemade decoration type thing consisting of pine branches and berries ($0). The fourth day I got a sample-sized hand lotion ($1 - or the cost of a hotel room, you decide).

Which brings us to the fifth day, Friday. Now, Thursday had been a long day here. Not a bad day, just a long one... another endless staff meeting, took Jacob for a haircut, took Emily to the dentist, and so on, and so forth. And on Friday morning I was doing my zombie imitation (without the actual flesh-eating) in the shower, and suddenly I remembered the Secret Santa thing and I actually perked up. "Oh, yes!" I thought. "They've been sort of light on the substance thus far, so maybe they've been saving up the brunt of the $15 allotment for today, and it'll be a nice way to end the week! How lovely! Hooray!"

Um, no.

Friday I got three more pieces of chocolate ($1).

For those of you not bothering with a mental tally, let me bring you up to speed. I ended up with five pieces of chocolate, a thing of mints, some yard waste, and some hotel-style hand cream. A grand total, if the person was shopping sloppily and extravagantly, of $4.

Merry Freakin' Christmas.

Here, now, I heard about the $15 limit, and I thought it was going to be a challenge to stay under that. Now I learn that $15 is the height of wantonness, and in fact it's possible to be in a Secret Santa exchange for a whole week and still get change from a five-dollar bill.

And for those of you ready to defend the giver... "Maybe she couldn't afford more..." (I work in a mental health agency, it's a safe bet that it's a "she.") To you I say, "If she can't afford it, don't enter the Secret Santa thing in the first place! I would happily double-up and give to two people if someone is that badly strapped for cash... at work..."