In 22 years of my life, Christmas only meant eating Christmas cake and chilling at home and it was never about Santa or gifts… My home-town dresses up like a little princess at this time. Even though there is hardly any Christian population here, we never mind celebrating the holiday in our own way- there are fairs, foot-festivals, circus, exhibitions, cultural functions organized through-out the week from 25th of December to New Year’s Day.
I came to know about Secret Santa a couple of years back in my corporate job. So basically everybody’s name will be written on chits. As part of the game you have to pick one chit. You can give him or her some task or some puzzle to solve or you can give him/her hint of your identity… ultimately you have to buy that person a gift. Looked like quite a simple and fun game at first. The way it is played in my office seems a little problematic to me. The organizer took names of all the people sitting in one zone- around 80-100 people. Even though, this large number of people sit inside the same 4 walls, we work in small teams and it is not possible to know everyone in the team.
Last year I got this name Sandhya- I didn’t even know that she existed and came regularly to office and sat in the same freaking zone with me. There were no rules conveyed to us except we need to buy a gift for the person. Being a terrible and lazy person I am, I bought a shit ton of chocolates for Sandhya. I don’t know what can be a better gift than some good chocolate! Tanya was the girl conducting the game in our zone. We were supposed to exchange the gifts on Friday, I showed up with chocolates in my hand in front of Tanya, asking her to keep it on the lady’s desk. When I was about to hand it over, she told me, “Did you buy chocolates for her? Chocolates are not allowed as gifts.”
“… But I didn’t hear that before, I already bought this…”, I said, confused.
“I think I have clearly said that in front the zone that chocolates are not allowed!…”
Even though I didn’t hear anything like that from her, there was no point in standing there and arguing with her like an idiot. I kinda understand her point, chocolate is the easiest and cheapest option. She’s trying to encourage people to buy something that the other person finds useful in his/her daily life. Personally I like chocolates than almost any other thing in the world so I was fine if somebody would have given chocolates to me.
There’s no gift shop around the place where I live and there was no time to order something online. The challenge was to buy a gift from a freaking grocery store, that’s just ridiculous. What shall I buy for her? A lunch box? A fancy water-bottle? A frying pan? Some dry-fruits(that’s hella expensive!)? Some staples? An umbrella? I ended up buying a nice little metallic lamp. You can keep a candle inside it. If kept in dark room, it casts shadows in the shape of moon and stars. Below the lamp, there was a tortoise holding it. In my quick research I found out that this is one of those things people consider as lucky. I had no idea if Sandhya had the same belief or not but I thought it was a decent gift. I didn’t give her any task, staright up kept the gift on her desk on Monday.
On the other hand it was my turn to get a gift as well. I was not much excited about the gift, instead I was terrified about the task. Some of the people got tasks like shouting some stupid poem at the top of their lungs, reenacting some famous movie scene, saying a special word every time he/she needs to stand etc. I don’t want to do any of this, luckily I didn’t get any task. My gift was a coffee mug. It was a normal coffee mug, looked a little old to me even though it was packed and wrapped. Later I came to know that my secret Santa was one of my teammates. As I know him personally, I had to believe that the cup was not second-hand or old. Till date I use that mug… 🙂 A lot of funny things happened around me but I couldn’t understand as it was in Telugu. I feel like an alien when my co-workers talk within themselves in Telugu. You might be wondering why I have not learnt it yet. First of all, the language is not that easy to learn. Secondly, it helps me concentrate more on my work ’cause my ears don’t pick up the words that my brain doesn’t know.
I am yet to come to the main reason why emphasized my distaste in Secret Santa…
This year too, we played secret Santa. This year too, I got name of a person whom I didn’t know. This time Tanya mentioned in the mail, “Gift can worth minimum 100 Rs. and maximum 400 Rs.” There was still no mention about the chocolates though! However I was not into buying chocolates once again. I was discussing with one of my teammates about where I could buy some gift and she told me about a gift-shop on her way home. She already went there and clicked a bunch of pics of the stuffs they had before our discussion. I asked her to buy the gift and get it wrapped from there. I physically didn’t go to the shop, she did all the work for me. Secret Santa is a good way to have some fun at work but I felt weird both of the times buying gift for a complete stranger. It might be fascinating for some people, not for me. If it were one of the people I know, team-mate or not, I would have cared a lot more in buying the gift. As usual, I didn’t give the girl any task, just passed on the gift.
I got an epic present this time, a small wooden pen-stand with pens in it. There’s a clock in front it. Nice right?
Now let me clarify a little more about it, those pens were the 2 most useless pens in the world, the ink dried up sitting in the shop itself.
The clock looked nice but there was no battery, so if you wanna make it work… buy the cell by yourself. The dial was taken from an old watch that was thrown away. It looked like somebody just assembled some useless staff at his/her home, wrapped it up and gave it to me. I don’t know how much it cost and I was pretty disappointed with the gift. It was not about the money, my Secret Santa too didn’t like buying a gift for a person whom he/she barely knows or probably my Secret Santa hates me for real. Many people got nice gifts – like scented candles, sand-clock, stuffed toy, desk decorators, small plant, hand-made staff, photo-frames etc.
Probably I am more pissed off because I hated my gift. But in general I would say it would have been better to play Secret Santa within the 2-3 teams, who work closely…