My daughter and the 10 other seventh grade girls who sit at her lunch table decided to have a a Secret Santa gift exchange, with a $10 limit. They put names in a hat and drew them today, with the gift exchange scheduled for lunch on Friday, the last day of school before the holiday break.
She told me all this in the car on the way home from school. "How sweet!" I thought to myself. "This sounds imminently reasonable. These girls really are growing up."
And then my tween interrupted the holiday fantasy.
"I've got Bella, and she wants something to wear. Can you get her a scarf?"
As I debated in my head whether to be sweet and supportive or lose it and tell her that that my holiday to-do list is already a mile long, thank you very much, she said the line that really got me.
I think she thought I was hesitating for other reasons, so she said sweetly, "I'll even split it with you."
"Uh, excuse me? Your gift exchange, your money."
It wasn't so much the offer of splitting but more that she thought she was being magnanimous by chipping in.
That's not how this Santa operates, sister.
Once it was clear that my daughter would, in fact, be supplying the funds for Secret Santa, the good part of the story came out.
In what is a far from shocking turn of events, the tween girls really struggled with the "secret" part of "Secret Santa."
By "struggled," I mean that they had all revealed whose name they had drawn within about four minutes of doing so. (The time estimate comes from my kid, leading me to believe that it was really closer to 2 minutes.)
All except one girl spilled the gifting beans. There was one who was shocked and appalled at the revelation of recipients. She was so upset that she quit. She was interested in Secret Santa, but not Public Santa. Fair enough, and good for her for taking a stand.
With everyone knowing who everyone else had, it wasn't too hard to shift things slightly to accommodate for the girl who jumped ship. They didn't want her person to be left out.
Once the remaining girls were very clear on who was playing Santa, they gave specific wish lists to their Santas. When the girl my daughter has said she'd be happy with anything, my daughter said, "I'm going to need more than that."
The idea of coming up with a gift idea on their own did not appeal. That's the cynical way of looking at it. In talking with my daughter a bit, she said she really wanted to get her something she would like and use and thought asking her would be the best way to determine an item her recipient would enjoy. My kid pointed out, "You tell Santa what you want. Why not tell (not so) Secret Santa what you want?"
They didn't all feel that way. The girl who had my daughter said "I'm going to get you a lot of gum." Props to her for coming up with something on her own.
To review, the girls all know both who is getting them a gift, and what those gifts will likely be. This generation is nothing if not efficient. Perhaps the most positive way to look at it is that they are a generation who knows themselves and what they want, and they aren't afraid to ask for it. And figure that at 12 year-old, this is their first self-administered Secret Santa endeavor. I think they'll refine their technique over time.
"That was an eventful lunch, wasn't it?" I asked.
"They all are," she matter-of-factly answered.
Here's hoping Santa means a little less drama next year.
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Filed under: Holiday