The day began with a Christmas miracle; it seems even the good Lord himself has dispensed with burning bushes and lightning bolts in favour of Amazon Prime. Upon logging into her account, my work colleague Emily was amazed to discover that she’d ordered a copy of Colour the Words of Jesus, just in time for the Holidays.
As she sat aghast trying to work out who’d hijacked her basket (here’s looking at you, J.C.), I Googled her holy purchase. Described as “a beautifully curated collection of bible verses for Christians centred on the words of Jesus”, each page features a scripture verse in beautiful calligraphy, allowing readers to “enjoy the relaxing act of colouring while also deepening your relationship with the Lord”. Emily was horrified.
“Why the hell would I want a Christian colouring book?!” she exclaimed behind her screen, presumably jabbing at the ‘cancel’ button. “Maybe someone upstairs is trying to tell you something,” I suggested. “It is Christmas, after all. Perhaps it’s a sign.” However, this did nothing to appease her disdain for her first mystery gift.
Things improved with the office tradition of the Secret Santa gift exchange. Emily received some posh hand moisturiser, which cheered her up no end. I got a cracking gift from mine: a year-long blog planner to organise my content in advance (so expect to be hearing a lot more from me over the next 12 months, with no more of these late entries – cheers Becky!). And I was genuinely chuffed to bits with it – until I discovered that some lucky beggar in sales had received FLIGHTS from theirs. No joke – return flights to Stockholm, and the Secret Santa had only gone one quid over the £10 budget! Needless to say, the recipient was over the moon.
I was really nervous about how my recipient would react to theirs. To be fair, I’d ended up with a very, very difficult person. But I like a challenge. I had no idea what they might like, and nobody seemed able to come up with any viable suggestions. So in the end, I decided to forget about finding something they might actually want and just went down the super-silly novelty gift route instead.
Now this guy wears black almost every day and never, ever smiles – in terms of Christmas cheer, the words ‘bah, humbug’ spring to mind. So I thought it would be quite amusing to buy him a sexy Santa outfit to get him in the mood – a fur-trimmed velveteen hat and matching boxer shorts with a pair of musical socks, which beeped their way through a medley of festive favourites when you pressed Santa’s nose (they kept going off while I was trying to wrap his gift under my desk).
In my head, I’d pictured him rocking the look as loungewear under a silken robe, Hefner style, whilst reclining on the sofa eating mince pies and watching Christmas crap on TV. It was a risk, but I thought he’d see the funny side.
Oh sweet baby Jesus – how wrong was I.
Having not heard a peep out of him during the office drinks and nothing further still at the Christmas dinner, I started to worry that perhaps my little joke had fallen flat. So I sent in a mole – who soon informed me that my recipient had already given the outfit away in disgust and was deeply disturbed by the thought of someone in the office perving over visions of him in his underwear. Suddenly, I was having visions of myself being hauled into HR on charges of sexual harassment. It was all getting a bit out of hand.
Late into the evening, when everyone was nicely sozzled, I pulled up a chair as my recipient was in the middle of regaling a group of colleagues with all kinds of tales of wild weekends at various raves and fetish clubs. Yet it was when talk turned to our Secret Santa gifts that he really started to freak out.
“Do you have any idea who gave it to you?” I asked innocently. “No,” he whispered, his eyes darting nervously around the room as he clutched at his shirt. “I just can’t believe that someone here has been going around imagining me… you know… naked! I mean… what kind of twisted person would do such a thing?!?”
As I sheepishly raised my hand, his eyes widened in terror. I was keen to clarify that I hadn’t actually imagined him naked at any point – but it was clear the damage was done. I wondered whether he’d ever be able to look at me in quite the same way again. And yet, it secretly tickled me to think that this guy, who not five minutes ago had been sharing details of his jolly jaunts to Torture Garden and Antichrist, had been shocked to his very core by a velveteen Santa suit and some musical socks.
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