A woman worked in a small office with seven female employees. Workplace friendship and close interactions were the norm, but this amicable atmosphere was soon to be soured by a Christmas controversy.
Secret Santa Traditions
The friendly workplace atmosphere had given rise to an annual Christmas tradition of Secret Santa gift-giving. The office had divided the gift exchange into three weeks leading up to Christmas: trinket gifts for the first two weeks, and a final gift exchange, and staff dinner in the third week.
The previous year, one of the co-workers, a 45-year-old woman, had an unpleasant Secret Santa experience. Her first two gifts arrived late, ruining the anticipation of the designated weeks. Furthermore, the final gift she received was a wallet that she felt was both under-budget and thoughtless.
A Yearning for Reconciliation
As the new Secret Santa season approached, the co-worker openly shared her disappointment from the previous year with her co-workers. For this reason, she expressed her reluctance to participate in this year’s Secret Santa.
However, the woman and her co-workers attempted to persuade her to take part, insisting that they couldn’t exclude her. Still, the co-worker brushed these persuasions aside, remaining steadfast in her decision.
An Unconventional Plan
Despite her reluctance, the woman decided to include the co-worker’s name in the Secret Santa draw anyway, with the intention of ensuring she’d receive a gift without participating actively. The woman made a rule in the generator to avoid pairing her with her previous Santa.
A Firm Stand
In late November, as co-workers began buying gifts, the co-worker made it clear once more that she wanted no part in Secret Santa and vowed to leave any gift she received at work. However, the woman remained steadfast in her belief that the co-worker should still be included.
The Woman’s Perspective
The woman explained why she felt so strongly about her co-worker being included: “It would be terrible during the next 3 weeks for everyone to be excited about a surprise gift knowing she’s not involved or receiving anything. Her past Santa would feel guilty and not be able to enjoy the festivities. We would feel awkward opening gifts with her right there.”
The Co-worker Was Selfish
Whilst the woman understood her co-worker’s reluctance, she also found her attitude somewhat selfish. “She knows how close we are at work and how her refusal to participate will impact the holiday season”, the woman explained. “Just accepting gifts graciously is fine because we are only doing it to make her feel included, and to make up for last year!”
Crossing Her Boundaries
However, the woman did wonder whether this was the wrong decision. The co-worker had set clear boundaries, and by including her regardless, the woman would be directly going against her co-worker’s requests.
A Plea for Consideration
Despite this, the woman still couldn’t bear the thought of receiving a gift and talking about it enthusiastically while knowing her co-worker couldn’t partake in the joy. It was a sincere effort to make up for last year’s disappointment and to maintain a harmonious holiday atmosphere at work. Therefore, she decided to continue with her decision regardless.
The Internet’s Verdict
Despite her decision, the woman felt conflicted. She headed online to her favorite social network, hoping to receive validation from internet strangers. However, the woman was disappointed to see that her online friends were not on her side. “Enforced fun is not fun”, one community member wrote. “If she doesn’t want to take part you should have left her out.”
Almost everyone agreed that the woman’s seemingly selfless act was in fact selfish. ‘“I don’t want to be involved”… “you’re being involved”… yay we have a control freak on our hands’, commented one person.
One commenter chimed in with their opinion that the tradition of Secret Santa was inherently flawed. “Secret Santa sucks because people say it’s voluntary, yet there still ends up being situations like this, where you’re still either voluntold or bullied into it”, they wrote. “It’s just being harassed into spending MORE money at a time of year when money is already tight.”
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