Secret Santa


Living alone, as I do and have done for the past few years, makes Xmas and Xmas presents a very simple subject indeed. I have only one living relative in this country, to whom I only speak at funerals, which leaves me only one person to buy presents for.

This is a two-edged proposition. On the one hand, I am absolutely guaranteed getting only things that I want, but on the other hand, I have to forego the simple joy of tearing off the wrapping to find out what that odd-shaped parcel is concealing. This year’s Xmas is contained in a couple of supermarket carrier bags tucked in beside the desk, and an overlarge cardboard box containing the Russell Hobbs Slow Cooker that was my selection from my employers’ annual ‘Xmas stocking’.

The sole exception to this is Secret Santa.

My first experience of this expedient device was back in 1987, when I was working for the first of my two firms in Altrincham. By the time Xmas came around, I had been (secretly) dating one of my colleagues, and it was with a great glee that had to be firmly suppressed in order to preserve our privacy that I immediately went and drew her name!

Not that I need have bothered: all the women in the firm had worked out about us from a very early stage, though in defence of my hopelessly inadequate poker-face, there were seriously extenuating circumstances.

Not that I played Secret Santa for long: three years later, we ‘merged’ with a nearby firm and Secret Santa was just one of many things – our offices, our systems, 95% of our staff – that did not carry over.

Nor did Secret Santa rear its head again at any place I worked until the formation of my current team at my employers, three years ago.

So it was done today, an extremely rare occasion when we could actually get all of us, on our different shifts, in the same place at the same time. I have given out my present, and have unwrapped the only present this year that I did not know the contents in advance. And have demonstrated, yet again, how bloody difficult I am to buy for.

(Actually, when I drew the name of my recipient, I have no idea what to get her, but I enlisted one of our team-mates as my personal Secret Santa Xmas Shopper, resulting in a tasteful collection of little things that she absolutely loved. So that was two presents where I didn’t know what was under the wrapper).

Six days left. Are there any surprises in store?

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