Secret Santa Is Actually The Worst
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Secret Santa Is Actually The Worst

A Heaping Plate of Gift-wrapped Anxiety and Self-doubt

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Secret Santa Is Actually The Worst

Ah, the secret Santa. A time-honored tradition for those of us too poor to buy multiple friends' gifts during the holiday season. Most of us have been participating in this little gift swap since we could scrounge together enough babysitting money to buy our intended a variety pack of Lip Smacker's. Never questioning why we continue to participate in the holiday charade year after year, let's sit back and really think about it - aren't secret Santa's kind of the worst?

For one, they're nearly inescapable. Whether it's through your work, family, friends, or ultimate frisbee team, someone inevitably suggests that you guys should all get together for a secret Santa this holiday season. What are you supposed to do about this if you don't want to participate? Opt out? Say "No thanks, I hate the holiday spirit" when everyone else is eager to get in on the gift giving action? No! If you did, then you're the awkward rift in the group who is neither giving nor receiving this holiday season.

So, since you are now participating in the fun and merriment, you pick a name. Best case scenario you pick out the name of your best friend and know immediately what to get them based on their Pinterest page. Worst case scenario, you pick out the name of an auxiliary friend - the type of person you're really only friends with because you have a mutual friend. Having nothing to go on besides the fact that your auxiliary friend has a Patagonia, wears bean boots, and is always carrying a water bottle, you must now get your auxiliary friend a personalized and very special gift.

The price limit has been set - a reasonable $20. But for Christmas sake what are you supposed to get this person? Do you go for the big and bold - buy one thing with all your money, or do you go the tchotchke route and get them a little bit of everything? Well, since you don't know anything about them besides the fact that they drink water, it probably doesn't matter.

So the day of the secret santa has come, and you're all out to dinner in order to celebrate, subtly making you question how much money you are actually saving with the secret santa, as people order apps on apps, since you're all splitting the bill. In your clammy hands is a poorly wrapped water bottle, you're only justification for this meager gift being the fact that your auxiliary friend always uses a plastic one, probably wanted a reusable one, and also, you know, the environment. It's the moment for the gift unveiling, someone in the group suggests you open them individually. That way, everyone's reaction to their gift can be studied, examined, and analyzed based on whether or not they genuinely seem to like their gift - no half smiles here.

You're too busy practicing your own "pleasantly surprised" face to notice that someone got their best friend in the exchange, and got them the perfect gift (and it's definitely not $20) "Sorry!" they say, with feigned embarrassment in their voice "I may have gone a little overboard!" As everyone oohs and aahs at the perfect gift, the water bottle really does seem stupid.

You open your gift, and it's a pair of funny toe socks - you smile a bit too widely and your voice raises two octaves as you sincerely thank your secret Santa.

It's your auxiliary friend's turn, and you hand your gift over to them. You just catch the barely perceptible glint of fear in their eyes, as they realize their gift giver was someone almost entirely random. The whole table grows silent as they pick the tape off your pitiful wrapping job. Finally, the water bottle is revealed. Immediately you feel the need to justify it "It's portable!" you say lamely. Your auxiliary friend says thank you a few too many times, throwing in a "wow" for good measure, before also lamely adding "I like water so this is good". The worst is over.

As the dinner ends and you all split the bill (which would have been cheaper without Marina's jalapeno poppers). Everyone gets up to leave. You notice the water bottle still sitting on the table, and you chase your auxiliary friend out of the restaurant, waving the bottle like it is something of the utmost importance that they've forgotten. They thank you, get in the car and leave. On your way home, you realize you left your toe sock on the table, right next to your leftovers.



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