Merry Christmas. I’m a horrible person.

I’m sitting here in my bath robe, 3:30 in the afternoon, sick with whatever horrible horribleness this stupid weather has brought us. I’m a disgusting blob of spittle and snot, coughing and sneezing and annoying the crap out of my pets. They all huddle at the corner of the couch careful not to get too close to me as I whine for them to love me because I’m weak. They don’t care. The only thought going through their mind is ‘Awww, poor daddy. Dinner time?’.

During this unplanned sick day I was able to enjoy a cold/flu medication influenced dream about a past holiday event.

First things first: I think we all know about me by now. I’m just a big ball of mush; overly emotional and sentimental. I’ve also had the joy of working with and managing some very special people over the years. I am still in contact with many of my former colleagues. Through all my journeys through companies and organizations I strove to make each place feel small and intimate so that work never really felt like work. Through it all I’ve been lucky to have earned the trust of my colleagues, a trust that I never abused.

Except once.

At a former place of employment where I managed a team of about a dozen people. We were young-ish men and women, almost all in our 20’s and 30’s, in relationships or for some happily single. During the holidays I decided it would be pretty nifty to show these freaks how much I appreciated them by holding a team Christmas party. It would be less than an hour, there would be a gift exchange, lots of talking and then probably head out to a happy hour after. The catch was this: I bought enough ‘gag’ gifts for everyone. Each gift was different and something that I thought was pretty cool but the way that they would get the gift was to pick out a random slip of paper that had the name of a famous person or character and they would receive the present corresponding to that name.

I can’t remember if I bought a tube of sexy-time lubricant for the person who got ‘Han Solo’ or not.

So, we’re all gathered around the table, exchanging gifts with each and then comes the game that I thought up. The gifts ranged from Lego sets to $25-$50 gift certificates inside kid wallets or small stockings, electric screwdrivers (who wouldn’t need one of those??), a large metal jack and various ornaments from Restoration Hardware, and more. If someone forgot to bring a gift, it was cool: I brought extras 🙂 But I manipulated the game a little bit and for that I’m sorry. If any of my former employees at the time read this please realize that I truly did have the best of intentions and there was no other way for me to do what I did through the company that we worked for.

There was one employee who was a single parent. Times were a little tough for this person and their child so I made sure that the slip of paper that they picked out said ‘Aretha Franklin’. When it was time to claim their prize they came up, I gave them this trash bag with a big, piney Christmas wreath and I pulled it half-way out. We all laughed at how ridiculous it was. That should have been the end of the party. However, it really wasn’t the end. See, the clue was ‘Aretha Franklin’. Tied to the bottom of the wreath was a Franklin.

It was the only way I could think of doing it – surrounded by friends, everyone smiling and laughing while enjoying the festivities.

I know $100 doesn’t really go far these days but I hope that it, and the other presents and prizes doled out that day, at least lifted the spirits of my cohorts.