Sitcoms are great for bringing to the audience a sense of humorous tension created by a character who finds himself in a situation that he can’t seem to get out of… Yeah, well my life’s a sitcom.
Several years ago, in preparation for our staff Christmas party my boss asked me to write down everyone’s name on paper for us to draw names for gift giving. While I was in the other room gathering up the paper and a container to pick names from it hit me… Wouldn’t it be funny if everyone got my name? In other words, no one would know that my name would be on every slip of paper and when they selected the gift recipient, they would all have my name.
I could just picture how funny it would be when everyone showed up at our Christmas party with a present for me…. It was a brilliant plan! So I did it. For each of the staff members, including myself, I wrote my name. We all drew names out of the hat and I was the only one who knew that they all had my name. I was laughing inside… I was going to be laughing all the way to the Christmas gift bank until I began to get a guilty twinge. I noticed that one of my co-workers, because he had drawn my name three years in a row, was wanting to trade names with another… they found out that they both had me. I immediately fessed up. We all laughed and I rewrote the names and this time did it correctly and our Christmas party went on without a hitch. We talked about for a few months, laughed about it and then the whole thing seemed to be forgotten.
A few years later, our staff had grown in numbers and my little gift plot hadn’t been talked about for quite some time and I’m pretty sure it was forgotten. As before, my boss asked me to write everyone’s name down on paper so that we could draw names for our gift exchange. Well, once again the thought of everyone walking into the Christmas party with a gift for me sounded just too funny. So I did it again…. I wrote my name on every slip of paper and everyone drew MY name out of the hat. I truly thought that before the day was over that I would once again be found out, we would all laugh and names would be rewritten and drawn again. But just like any good sitcom… it didn’t happen the way that I thought it would. No one seemed to catch on that they each had my name.
After a day or two, no one said anything about it so I knew that I had won. I was going to get a gift from everyone. I could just picture how funny it would be when it was time to pass out the gifts that everyone would hand theirs to me. Then, like a kick in the rear, I realized that I would be the only one who got a gift…. I know, I know, that was the plan, but I love my co-workers; I didn’t want them to .not get a gift.
Because several days had passed, I was too proud or maybe too embarrassed to admit my plan, I had to find out if they really, truly didn’t know about the numerous duplicate “Nancy” names floating around. I began hinting but no one seemed to catch on. So I went to the one staff member that I felt would team up with me…. I still won’t tell who it was…
After much prying and the promise that I would never reveal my source, I was told that yes, everyone knew that they all had my name. But what I found out beyond that blew me away…. I was told that not only did they all know they had my name but they had plotted against me! They redrew names and didn’t include me at all. I was going to show up to the party and not get a single gift!
Now you might think that is completely fair but …. okay, well, I guess it was…… but I couldn’t let them out do me… I had to be a creative thinker and come up with a plan to make them all feel guilty for leaving me out.
I thought and thought and the only thing that I could think of that could possibly make them feel bad was to let them believe that I felt so guilty that I would be receiving all of these gifts, that I went out and purchased a gift for all of them…. but not just any gift…. I wanted to get them something BIG. Then when they opened their gifts they would be like, “Oh man! But wait, we didn’t get Nancy anything…. I feel so guilty… I feel so bad for trying to out do her…. I feel like such a terrible friend and she is such a good friend… Just look at this gift she gave me.. How will I ever repay her?” (Maybe a tad over the top but you see where I’m going, right?)
So, my search was on…. I needed to find a great gift for each of them but I had little to spend. Still yet, I was going to show them. I began by looking for great items at places like Goodwill and other treasure outlets but nothing. Then I finally found the store that made my gifts come to fruition. I drove an hour and a half to a little town that happened to have a store that had great coats for very low cost. I stocked up. I bought wool coats, leather coats, team coats, down coats… I was a coat monster….. My husband wasn’t too happy with me but it was worth it…. Those guys were going to feel so ashamed!
I arrived at the party and laughter roared as I walked into the room with my stack of gifts. Little did they know that the joke was on them. We ate and talked and then it was time to open gifts. I made my little presentation… I told how guilty I felt and that I wanted to do something nice. So they each opened their gifts and they were all amazed at their generous gifts.
Now, I will admit that I didn’t have this great feeling of accomplishment that I had hoped for… they really thought that I had spent a lot of money and they did seem to feel a little bad. As much as I plotted and planned, I realized as they opened the gifts and I saw the look on their faces that I never really wanted them to feel bad…..I loved them. (still do) I was just having fun… albeit over-budget fun (which my husband asked that I please not do again) and at that point, I didn’t want them to feel bad at all. I wanted them to enjoy their gift whether they had gotten me anything or not.
I think a true gift is just that…. something we want people to enjoy. It is pleasing to the giver when there is an appreciation for what was given. During the Christmas season, it is easy for me to get so caught up in the giving and doing parts that I tend to forget about what a great generous gift God has given to us through Jesus. Not only is there hope, peace and love in that gift but there is the gift of eternal life and it was given for us to embrace, appreciate, share and enjoy.
This Advent Season, through songs, stories or other means, be reminded of the great gift that God has given to us. But more so be reminded that he would have given this gift even if your name was the only one in the hat. He thinks that much of you.