In Defense Of The "Secret Enemy"
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In Defense Of The "Secret Enemy"

I don’t know if there’s a name for it in English, but in Brazilian Portuguese we call it “Inimigo Secreto” and I think it’s beautiful.

In Defense Of The "Secret Enemy"
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One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the “Secret Enemy”. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically a Secret Santa, only you have to get a bad gift for whoever you've picked. I only got to do it with my family once, as my grandma readily declared it “opposed to the Christmas spirit”, but I’ve been doing it for a couple of years with my friends and it’s always great fun. In a different manner from Secret Santa in which you can do with co-workers and get away by buying either soap or socks, the Secret Enemy requires a lot more of intimacy and time. It’s exciting to prepare a gift intending for the person to dislike it, and if you have a small drop of malice in between all the characteristics which make you You (and I believe everyone has), all of your mind’s mechanisms will start working at 100miles/hr to find out the wittiest gift you can come up with. Of course, you can simply buy a 90% chocolate or a CD from a terrible band, but truth is, no one wants to waste their opportunity of being allowed a small evil action by following the ordinary. The Secret Enemy is a way of releasing yourself from correctness, and a huge proof of friendship.

In order to properly enjoy a Secret Enemy, you must know the person’s biggest pet-peeves, what will make them get up and deliver a passionate 1-hour speech over why is it wrong, bad, and disgusting. In return, you must be known too. The gift will show how much of the person’s conversation you've payed attention to, how perceptive and interested you’ve been. Sometimes it’s easy, specially if the person enjoys complaining about politics, but it can also be terribly hard. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are full of what the person loves, but not many people will share what is it that they hate. You’ll need to have spent time talking and listening to them, and when the gift is on point, it’ll be a proof of how much you actually care about what they have to say. Besides, no one feels comfortable giving a bad gift to someone they dislike. It’ll feel like a provocation. You have to be on good terms enough with your Secret Enemy not to cause any embarrassment, after all, it’s no more than a joke.

As for the “Christmas spirit”, my grandma's main argument (love you), I just wonder what it truly means. I don’t want to talk about the hypocrisy of it, we all know it’s awfully commercialized nowadays, but this is no reason to stop believing in it or not to want it at your house. My grandma is sweet and kind (on the outside and deep down; there’s a naughty middle level not many people get to know), and has an incredibly idealized vision of a peaceful and loving family which, if it’s to come true, can only be during Christmas. My idea of realizing a Secret Enemy disturbed her a bit, and I understand why, from her point of view. From mine, though, I believe one thing does not nullify the other. As I said before, the game can become a proof of care. Maybe families are not all as united as a group of friends, there’re small disagreements here and there, but it’s the way it always is. The Secret Enemy gives an openness between people, and maybe to embrace the confusion and joke around is the best cure to the unavoidable cracks. Christmas might become, specially among the grandchildren, a competition for who gets to win the best gifts, and on Secret Santa there’s a nervousness around who was picked by the person who will spend the most money on a gift. Through the small hint of malice in all of us, the Secret Enemy makes us stop thinking about what we will get and start wondering about what can we arrange for someone else. For once, we want to give more than we want to receive, which doesn’t mean we aren’t also extremely curious to see what our gift will be, only there’s no greed involved. For me, that’s the Christmas spirit.

I don’t know if there’ll be a Secret Enemy this year (maybe if someone changes their mind), but I truly hope so. Everyone is a bit naughty, a bit malicious, and a bit in love with discord. If you accept it, you might even turn it into some good. That’s why the Secret Enemy is my favorite tradition. Maybe there’s no such thing as perfect goodness, doing the good for the good, but the good for the bad is a lot like People, and I don’t see much trouble in it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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