When I was about 8, we had a secret santa gift exchange in my 4-H club. The only rule was that it had to be home-made.
The girl whose name I drew loved cats, so I spent a long time making her a jewelry box with a cat collage on it. Inside, there was a pair of earrings that were kitties.
I was beaming when she opened her gift- she loved it! Even her mom thought it was cool. I totally nailed it, and I was giddy that I had made her a gift that she liked.
Then, I was told to get my gift.
It was the only one wrapped in newspaper instead of regular wrapping paper, but I still had high hopes.
When I picked it up, it seemed to be….oozing?
With some trepidation, I peeled the paper back and there was… peanut butter.
I looked a little closer and saw that there was a pine cone tucked amidst the gooey-ness. And a piece of string.
Awkwardly, I looked up towards my mom and my 4H teacher for some sort of direction. “Help me” my eyes begged. My still-developing brain did not know how to handle the suddenly awkward situation I’d been thrust into.
Finally, one of the other kids’ moms said “It’s a bird feeder!”
I looked back down at the goopy mess in my lap.
Now, I was taught to always say thank you when you get a gift and to pretend you like it. I didn’t know what else to do, so I overshot the mark a little bit.
“It’s wonderful! Wow, thank you!”, I yelled dramatically. “This is the best gift ever! And you made it yourself?! My word, how magnificent! Gee golly, I want to run home right now and hang it up outside my window! Can you just imagine all the birds that I’ll be able to see? Good heavens! THANK YOU!”
The kids were all staring at me like I was a total nut-job.
I looked at my mom, hoping I had sold the act, but I couldn’t quite gauge her reaction since her eyes were rolled so far back in her head. After an awkward pause, the next kid opened their gift and the party continued on. I sat there wondering who in the group gave me such an odd gift.
Later, my mom said she figured out who my secret santa was pretty easily:
the only girl in the room who was beaming from ear to ear when I made my thank-you speech.