A few days ago while researching an article I'm working on about the history of advice columnists, I came across a piece about the man who took over for Ann Landers, Jeffrey Zaslow. The journalist commented on Zaslow's reach, including his ability to ensure that no letter to Santa went unanswered by asking his readers to pitch in.
That got me thinking about being single during the holidays, and how to feel connected to the world if you don't have family nearby (or even if you do and aren't close). I know that, for the years I was single and childless, I really had to get creative to feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself. For many years, I volunteered at soup kitchen -type events on Christmas Day, and as a teen I helped deliver care packages to local low income families for organizations like the Salvation Army and Meals on Wheels.
All of those activities made me feel good, and I was more than happy to share what I could. Call it selfish or whatever you'd like however, but more than once all I really wanted was a gift under the tree that I didn't buy for myself. Other years, I wanted nothing more than to have a reason to go buy or make a gift for someone else, taking my time to share something memorable.
Many of you can probably see where my brain lept to next: a secret Santa exchange. It seems like a natural conclusion, yet the logistics and legal issues stopped me from moving forward. Yes, I could use something like Elfster to create my own Secret Santa gift exchange for all of you, my dear readers, and I seriously considered it. But then I did a search for other, similar, random gift exchanges, and found that Reddit has their own gift exchange, and they're trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records this year for the largest Secret Santa exchange ever.
So without further ado, I invite you all to join me in this year's Secret Santa exchange at Reddit. I've used my referral code here not to get anything from it, other than to give you all a (cursory) connection to me and my account, without any access to my personal information. Unless of course you sign up by the deadline (November 25th) and get me as a match, or I get one of you in turn.
What I do suggest, for those wanting to partake, is to read the fine print carefully before signing up. No one but your matched gift giver will have your contact information, but they will have your address and both first and last name. As well, if you don't send a gift (and keep proof of such), your full name will be posted on the Reddit site for all to see.
Having said all that, there were some pretty amazing gifts shared through this process last year. If nothing else, check those out and let me know what you think. Good idea, or not?