December Seasonal Holiday Sentiment

With the upcoming holiday season, I recall an office tradition I reluctantly took part in: Secret Santa. The guidelines were simple: no gag gifts and $20 of value. The person who I drew (we pulled slips of paper from a bag) was easy enough as he loved fine wine. When the time came, the entire department assembled in the conference room to exchange gifts.

For $20, the gifts were on target with each colleague. Giddy with anticipation, I waited and waited and couldn't imagine what I would receive. After the final gift was given, I stood around, waiting for mine. Yet, there were no more gifts on the conference room table. I was the only person who didn't receive one. Humiliated, face red in shame, I fled the room hurt beyond belief.

That's how I feel about certain people who are inconsiderate, selfish and attempt to either manipulate or dominate me. The gift of a friendship and/or relationship wasn't on the table. Never was on their part. Disappointed, I'm hurt. It throws me back to that conference room where twenty-five people laughed at me, some in pleasure, others in discomfort.

Once that happens, I lose total interest in the person. I perceive him/her as a caricature. And whatever respect I may have had for that person evaporates. Never to revive. I'm done with the person. However, I'm not done with the pain of humiliation in trusting and respecting the person and allowing myself to be vulnerable. It's totally casting pearls before swine. It takes me time to calm down, to weigh and examine what occurred.

The day after the Secret Santa debacle, the guy came up to me and apologized. "I totally forgot about it," he muttered.

"No you didn't," I said. "Your intention was to hurt me. I hope you're satisfied because you succeeded beyond your wildest dreams."

He never liked me and used whatever opportunity at work to show his distaste. When he saw that hurt look in my eyes, the way I fled the room, he realized he was a true shithead. More than likely, the thought of hurting me gave him much more glee than the reality. An hour later, I received by messenger a gift bag full of skin care products. It must've cost him $200. I threw it down an incinerator chute at the office in front of the department and never spoke to him again.

My friends are very protective of me. They know I see the good in people and allow people in my life who I should steer clear of - which explains the lunatics. Yet, I'm not that gullible. So, when someone pulls a stunt - mind you, I'm not talking about something minor league here - I shut them out for good.

Since that incident, well over 30 years ago, I learned that people show their true colors from the very moment you meet them. You just have to listen to learn. I relented  the past year with one fellow. He showed me when I gave him leeway, when he never listened to me, I continued to be unhappy. That was a lesson I knew and dismissed. No longer.

Now, I give them one chance, just one. And when they blow it, I exit. Because I learned that one disappointment leads to another.

Funny enough, when I close the door, that's their wake-up call. They suddenly realize the value of having me in their life. But it's way too late for that. You see, if I let them back in, it'll be the same shit all over again. It's best left dead.

Although this may sound sad, it truly isn't. Mom always said, "It's best to be alone than in bad company." Even though I never participated in office Secret Santas since that time, I still draw the slip of paper from the bag of people I meet. Ever the eternal optimist because one day, I know, I'll get that wonderful gift, the one for which I've been waiting in anticipation. It'll be something I'll always cherish.

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