Friday, December 21, 2007

Secret Santa

I was so anxious to begin writing this morning I turned on the wrong burner. Nothing like radicchio and micro greens in melted plastic for breakfast when all I really wanted was boiled eggs. The smoke and stench will clean in a week or two.

Santas past are on my mind, but especially the year I played Secret Santa for the vice-principal of Westmoor Junior High. For one week, I made, bought and creatively appropriated gifts for Mr. Spivey, but on the fifth day, the Friday before Xmas break, I was out of ideas. I had painted two pictures of English sailing ships for my mother: one in oils and one in watercolor and the watercolor painting looked the best, so I took it, wrapped it up and slipped it into Mr. Spivey's in box in the office. I also included a tag with my name on it, since that was the day we were to reveal ourselves as the Secret Santa. Mr. Spivey loved his gift. He had made ships in a bottle and loved sailing (I didn't know that) and he had the painting framed and hung it on his wall. Many years later (a couple decades or so) I was told it hung on his wall until he retired. But he isn't the only one who cherished that painting, so did Mom, and she has never let me forget that I gave her painting away. Reasoning with her that she had another one didn't cut any ice with her. She said it wasn't as good.

Well, I knew that, but didn't figure it would matter since she loves the paintings I didn't like. For instance, the large 3/4 length portrait in acrylics I did of Beanie. That's her favorite painting and she has decided that the painting will go to Beanie when she dies because she can't trust me not to burn it.

Still, the experience of being a Secret Santa was a lot of fun and I've enjoyed carrying on the tradition without ever revealing my identity. It's more fun to give a gift anonymously and let the person believe they are special if only for that day, and it doesn't have to remain solely a Yule province either. Throwing a Scrabble game to a game partner on New Year's Eve after they tried for a year to beat you isn't such a small thing to do and it makes them happy. Finding an inexpensive computer -- or putting one together from excess parts -- for someone who doesn't have one is a nice gift. After all, every writer should have access to the Internet if only for the research. A gift certificate for a manicure or massage for someone who needs a little pampering or a food basket for a family who has had a rough year are also nice. Or simply giving a few months of pictures, extra storage space or a paid LiveJournal account are also gifts, and don't forget to check out the virtual gifts.

At a time of year when the days are so short and the nights so dark and long and cold, a little anonymous cheer is a great way to help someone feel special, and it works the same for the other eleven months of the year.

So much of the time we think about all the experiences and people who have scarred us for life, the ones who broke our hearts and betrayed our faith. I prefer to remember the people who, in their blundering and insensitivity, also did me a favor. I can think of quite a few. I think of it as the silver lining to every dark cloud, even though I love dark clouds because they bring rain and snow and cool breezes on blistering summer days.

That is all. Disperse.

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