Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Secret Santa

This is the time of year when colleagues buy each other generic ‘secret santa’ gifts and agonise about getting Sally in accounts who no one ever speaks to because she tends to eat her hair and usually has biro ink on her palms. The pressure, the enforced smile, the having to suck it up and realise that it’s just nice to receive something. There’s no curve, no standard, we get what we’re given and we lump it and if someone decides to get you a wind-up toy of a gorilla playing the bongos or a set of tights, then, well god has given you the gift of people spending money on you. I picked myself. I had the panicky moment where I couldn’t decide whether to keep it and treat myself or put it back and play the game. WWSD- what would santa do? I put it back and picked again, getting the PR girl who wears a lot of make-up and is friendly and girly and erm... errr... that’s all I know about her. What to do? I cast my mind back to every situation where we’ve conversed to in case there was a clue in my memories. All I could come up with was on American election day, we were both happy about Barak Obama’s lead. Success- I went for it, I bought her Barak Obama’s autobiography, wrapped it and then spent two days in a pit of self-pity worrying that it was potentially the dullest disappointment this side of a winter wonderland. Others mocked my choice. They had gone generic, buying chocolate bars and coffee mugs for their colleagues. I was stuck with my political statement.

The Christmas party seemed to throw a highlight on those who didn’t go out much as they imploded with the prospect of authorised daytime drinking, ploughing their way through the vino before the starters had arrived, getting into tussles with their bosses and generally being the loud abrasive twat they weren’t allowed to be in a professional environment. We ate and tried to learn about each other but fell into the trappings of office politicking before two splinter factions led their cliques out of the restaurant and into two separate post-lunch venues. Where to go? What choice to make? I chose both, being the Switzerland of the office, engaging in sedate literary chat at one venue, and in drinking and loutery in the other. There were tears, there were spilled drinks, there we all were ringing in the new year with our mugs and tights, thanking secret santa for his impeccable taste.

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