In the lead-up to Christmas, my psyche has been shuttling between the Scrooge and the Jolly Green Giant – I am after all a poorly paid pencil pusher and 6’1.
Colleagues have been showing and showering their gratitude with gifts and thoughtful cards the past week. I suppose this is the way of the (born and bred here) Singaporean. We are a reticent bunch. Who waits patiently for Christmas to roll around before expressing our thanks.
At other times, a curt thank-you, yes definitely.
Hugs are rarely observed – save twice – between bullpen denizens. The act is mostly reserved for people not met for the longest time – say, an ex-colleague that jumped ship to serve media-affiliates such as a PR firm or one of our advertisers. And even then, as elusive as a reindeer in Singapore.
When it does manifest, hugging is a careful event – like two hedgehogs mating. The two hug-ees, in an awkward dance, poise their arms in mid-arm, and waits for one another to enter into their embrace. And when they do finally touch – chests at least one hand-span apart – the long awaited climax is a perfunctory pat on each other’s backs, the entire shindig lasts exactly 1.5 seconds. A half second less than the foreplay (you remember the awkward arms).
Ironically, I believe we are much more generous with our gratitude – and emotions – toward partial strangers. Like the PR executive whom you’ve never met but just gave you a tipoff, the accountant three floors above your office who unlocked a project code from 2009 so you could post an overlooked payment, a vendor whose deep masculine voice has you swooning but could never bring yourself to flirt with.
And even then, instead of actually voicing it, we pepper – and dare I say it, litter – our thank-you emails with emoticons.
But I digress. Perhaps the gifts and cards are my dear colleagues’ way of saying dear-C-I-appreciate-what-you-do-around-the-office… Enter the Jolly Green Giant. Who resolves to find nice gifts for these adorable folks.
Until she starts comparing the gifts the same person gave another colleague (now, don’t tell me you don’t do that!). Exit JGG, enter Scrooge.
Well, the fact remains that they have given me something, so I should really give something back. This is where Scrooge and the Jolly Green Giant kinda merges – a creative construct of my mind and also a child of necessity (if you have a cute name for this child, put it down in the comments!).
And this child is toying with the idea of re-gifting, and has, of course, opened up every single package, and scrutinised and checked everything twice. In my own defence, if I do not know what I have received, how am I to decide what kind and what amount to gift back in return.
For those of you who do practise re-gifting, you know it’s an art. A very very tricky one indeed. For those who intend to start this time honoured tradition, do keep track of who gave what. That is so you won’t re-gift something annoyingly familiar you received from A to B; Then after handing said annoyingly familiar item over to B, recall B had gave it to you the year before. You could blame A for waiting one whole year before she maliciously or unknowingly gave it back to you. But that would be the pot calling the kettle black.
Despite all that forewarning, I’m taking a chance. But, at least, let it not be said that this Jolly Green Giant is a sloppy gift-wrapper: