Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Secret Santas

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Total Black: $6.70
Total Red: $230,660.74

It’s nearly Christmas.  The time when gift-giving abounds and generosity’s cup runneth over.  At the temp job yesterday, I bought twenty dollars worth of $2 scratch-off tickets, ten a piece, for my two fellow contract attorneys.  They were pleasantly surprised.  One had never bought or received an instant lottery ticket.  He won ten dollars.  The other won seven.  Nothing extravagant, but a nice gesture.  Of course one possible downside to such unexpected giving is that people may feel obligated to give something to you in turn.  Today one attorney bought me a coffee at Starbucks while the other bought Starbucks gift cards for me and the other attorney.  I was happy to receive their gifts, but I just they purchased them out of a desire to give and not a feeling of obligation.  That’s why I understand the urge to give quietly and anonymously.

There are quite a few quiet gift-givers who wish not to be known, according to an article titled “Anonymous Donors Take Care to Hide Their Identities” by Martha Irvine of the Associated Press, available on the New York Times’s website.  “These ‘secret Santas,'” Irvine wrote, “provide gifts ranging from plates of cookies to substantial piles of cash, and they are not in it for the glory or even the tax write-off.  Many go to great lengths to keep their identities cloaked.”  Wonderful idea, isn’t it?  You can’t get any purer or more innocent than someone leaving an extra large tip for a diner waitress or a anonymous gift left on someone’s doorstep.  One Christmas, while a volunteer in the United States Peace Corps, I did something similar.  In the early hours of the morning, I snuck around town and left a gift at the doorstep of a few of my fellow teachers.  Many ultimately guessed that it was I who had left the gifts.  But the thrill of giving a secret—or even an unexpected—gift never left me.

At this time of year, there’s a particular song, that always warms my heart.  “If Every Day Was Like Christmas” by Elvis Presley. It makes me wonder what our world would be like if we truly could make every day like Christmas.  If we were generous and peaceful.  If we were kind and considerate.  But then again, I suppose, if every day were like Christmas, we would sacrifice that day’s special magic and mystery.  Or so logic tells us.  But it still wouldn’t be a bad place to be.

This holiday why not be a Secret Santa to someone?  And I mean a truly secret one.  Stop at a corner deli or a nearby supermarket and spend $5.00 on a few instant lottery tickets.  Put them in an envelope and slip them in a neighbor’s mailbox or under a friend’s door or maybe on a colleague’s desk.  You can even give them to that homeless person you pass each day.  But be sure to keep it anonymous.  Don’t worry if Christmas has already passed when you read this.  Just by doing it, you’ll be helping to make every day a bit like Christmas.

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