I’m having trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year. Not only because the world is scheduled to end on December 21st, but also because I worry that my family has not truly embraced the holiday spirit. As the family has grown, we have seamlessly audibled to a system that involves only the distribution of presents through a secret Santa system.
As I understand it, a secret Santa system generally operates as follows: All participating members enter their names into a hat. Preferably one like this:
A jolly old family member walks the hat around until each participant has an assignment for present purchasing. You’re supposed to look at your assignment and quietly nod to yourself in approval as you imagine all of the epic presents you can buy for your beloved family member. Then the jolly old family member announces the spending threshold and you go back through those mental images and recalibrate:
iPad charger, yes:
Then, you spend the next few weeks searching for any hints about what your assignee may want this holiday season. You look at facebook, twitter, amazon.com, and maybe even ask a close friend. Then, out of nowhere, you figure it out! It’s a beautiful thing, so you run to the internet to buy that perfect gift. But when you get to the internet, you remember that you wanted to check your email, and see if Youkilis signed with the Yankees yet, or see if anything funny happened to someone’s cat. 8 hours later, you go to sleep in a bleary eyed cat high. The next day, you remember that you are past the deadline to send your secret santa gift, realize you complete forgot your revelation from the day before, so you buy an amex gift card and ship it off in the mail.
As I understand the world, this is how a secret Santa is supposed to work. But my family is different.
We start out the same. We use paper and cut it into squares. We put them into a hat. Ours looks like this:
(psst – it’s a yamulke)
Then my Uncle walks around with the hat. You pick your assignment and read it aloud to the whole family. One of my aunts yells, “Wait, didn’t you have him last year? you can’t have the same person again.” So you put the name back into the hat. Then you pick again and read the new name aloud. It’s your wife, so that sends the entire day in a tailspin. We spend the next 25 minutes debating how we can make it work like it has in the past. Finally someone figures it out. Everything goes perfectly and then the hat comes around to you. You’re the last one in the family and you pick the last slip of paper. You read it aloud and it’s your name. You ruin Christmas. But it’s okay, because we haven’t even realized that we’re Jewish and Hannukah already happened because we’re too busy debating whether Homeland is all the way in the shitter or only part of the way in the shitter.
So now that the “picking” part is ruined, my uncle goes into the office and manually assigns each person his or her secret santa. Then he reads the list to the whole family. I get the same person every year. In other words, it’s not that secret. But hey, at least we get to be imaginative with the gift buying.
Except for that after we get the assignment, it becomes your responsibility to inform your gift giver exactly what you would like for the holiday season, then you get it. Yet somehow, and this is the amazing part about family, we all still manage to complain about our gifts. And I’m not pointing fingers, because I can complain with the best of ’em. In fact, I’m surprised my name even goes into the hat. Poor little old me never gets a good present. Just this year, I asked for a beautiful sweater from J Crew and I got this:
Happy holidays everyone!