My Secret Santa hell

A man looking grumpy in a Christmas hat, thanks to Secret Santa.

My latest job is entirely remote and, while there are downsides such as missing out on getting to know my colleagues properly, these are generally outweighed. One such positive is the fact I don’t have to do a Secret Santa this year. Or so I thought.

You see, fresh from capitulating on when the tree went up – the last weekend in November, as usual – we made another questionable decision. The nine-year-old broached the subject and, before we realised, we had agreed to it.

So now we have to buy an extra present for everyone. Yes, part of the deal is that my wife and I purchase the gifts. And wrap them too. Hurrah. Still, the kids are really excited about it and have missed out on so much so it can’t be that bad, right?

The first issue was the complex matter of pulling five names from a hat. We went in reverse age order, so I was last. I didn’t mind this at all, but there was a problem. Mine was the only name left.

The kids were happy with who they had drawn, so my wife and I swapped. That was that. But not for long.¬†After sleeping on it, two out of three children weren’t happy with who they had to instruct one of us to buy for. So four out of five of us returned the small pieces of paper to the hat.

In scenes reminiscent of the botched Carabao Cup draws a few years ago, I managed to pick my own name on a further three consecutive occasions. Eventually, I got somebody else. Progress at last. This led to another challenge, however.

The name on the piece of paper was that of my wife. And, despite being soulmates, we never know what to buy for each other. We know each other very well, of course. We’ve been together for 14 years. It’s just that there’s nothing either of us wants or needs. Indeed, one year when money was really tight, we had no choice but to not buy for each other and were both secretly pleased.

So, in addition to fretting about what to get her as a normal gift, I have the stress of thinking of a second one. And, somewhat inconsiderately, she has a birthday in January too.

She’s okay with me writing about all of this, by the way. I’m equally inconsiderate in having a birthday just over a month before Christmas so the same problems apply. Plus everyone knows who has who. Despite glowing school reports alluding to their great intelligence, none of the kids has grasped fifty per cent of the concept of Secret Santa.

Ah well, never mind. As long as it gives the kids a little extra cheer after another fundamentally crap year, I can take the unnecessary extra stress and personal anguish…

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