In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Secret Santa.”
You get to choose one gift — no price restrictions — for any person you want. The caveat? You have to give it anonymously. What gift would you give, and to whom?
Over the years, I have played the role of Secret Santa either at my church, work office and my community home owners association.
However, one of my fondest poignant memories of playing the Secret Santa role was for a young woman named Cecilia Armstrong who I had known for just over nine years when I played the role.
We met as commuters when Cecilia and I shared seats on the commuter bus from suburban VA into Washington DC. She recently completed her doctorate in a field of study that was well above my understanding and the day before she returned from her honeymoon.
Her husband Kevin also shared in her field of study, but worked for another government agency and took another commuter line bus into Washington DC.
As I looked back over the years our relationship developed into me being the older brother, she never had, as we shared stories of our families as the years passed.
Over an eight year period she had three children and sometimes she would talk of being stressed over the issue of having her mother babysitting her children while she worked.
However, the holidays brought on more stressful times when her children’s school teachers would ask her to commit to providing snacks for several after school events.
One year, all three children each participated in individual productions of a Christmas play, two dance recitals, three music recitals, two soccer championships games, on the weekends ,all between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
She felt guilty, she could not find the time to cook from scratch cookies and cakes as most mothers did. I told her on several occasions to allow her mother to make the snacks or at least buy the bakery needs from the local grocery stores.
Over the years, she relented and used a bit of both, however this always depressed her. On many occasions she left work early to bake the items needed and as a last resort she would buy the items needed.
It was always on the commuter trip home she would realize she needed to buy snack for an after school event for one of her children.
Cecilia spoke of approaching events with regularity, so I arranged for a local delivery service to deliver three dozen assorted cookies, two small cakes and a coupon for a free dinner at a local restaurant to be given to her as she exited the commuter bus.
I had the delivery driver to approach our bus driver Terry Davidson to arrange for the delivery to be given to Cecilia.
Cecilia, looked into the bag smiled and turned to me, saying that her husband Kevin arranged the delivery.
She suggested that I assisted, however, I was able to convince her with the help of Terry the bus driver and the delivery driver who claimed some guy arranged the delivery from the commuter lot. At this point, Cecilia was convinced.
Several years later my wife and I were invited by Cecilia to attend her oldest child’s high school graduation.
The graduation was wonderful and later as we gathered at a local restaurant, Cecilia’s husband, Kevin pulled me aside and with tears in his eyes he thanked me for being the “Secret Santa” some years earlier.
I was stunned and speechless, as he went on to express his feelings and gratitude for me. He briefly explained how much stress their marriage was under when I arranged the delivery of cookies, cakes and the coupon for dinner.
He never told Cecilia that he did not buy the bag of goodies and I agree not to bring it up to Cecilia.
The Secret Santa act forced him to realize and appreciate Cecilia, and how much more he should be doing to make a contribution to their children. We shook hands and embrace each other and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.
My wife and were retired when we attended the backyard graduation party celebrating Cecilia’s youngest child from college, when she and I were seated talking, about our children.
She stopped me and said, I want to thank you for the Secret Santa Gift you gave me years ago. Kevin would never have thought about giving me a hand with the kids.
However, it was the result of the Secret Santa gift that forced Kevin to appreciate me, because I filed for divorce and was to have him served the following month.
Thank you for being my Secret Santa.