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Office Grinch Or Santa Claus?

December 7, 2018

There’s a pile of presents in our bedroom. Each one an identical small box with white wrapping tied up with a red ribbon.

My kids are not interested in these packages. Even if they were, it wouldn’t do any good. Each one is labeled for specific people.

The month of December means several things at my work. People try to spend the last of their “use it or lose it” vacation time. Our systems become unstable as every IT team tries to get their projects implemented prior to the end of the year. And people decide whether to give their coworkers gifts.

It’s a strange protocol. Anyone can decide to participate. Typically gifts fall into two categories: food and non-food. Typically food is safest. If you don’t have a close relationship with your coworkers you can buy them a nice candy bar or a box of chocolates works great.

Homemade treats are an option as well. Rice Krispy treats, or brownies, or cookies.

For people you know better, you can give non-food. But, typically you shouldn’t give non-food to people you don’t know well. Why? It’s too personal. Food is easy. Food doesn’t represent a commitment. Just like the fast food worker is committed to the Crispy Chicken Sandwich they are making for you. Food is impersonal. Even homemade brownies.

But, non-food represents at least some level of involvement. You had to choose a particular puzzle or book, or knicknack. And food is perishable. For better or worse it will be gone in few days. Non-food, on the other hand can stick around forever. Or worse, you ditch that knick knack and later the person who gave it, asks you about it. Then what?

That’s the route my lovely wife is taking. The pile of presents are for coworkers.

The challenge with gifts is who do you give them to? And that’s the challenge with playing Santa Claus. Unless you work in a small office, or are very wealthy, there are going to be more people than you can provide gifts to, no matter how many cookies you bake.

And the other challenge with gifts, is reprocity. Did Sally in Accounting get you a coffee mug? Do you need to get her something? Does it have to be non-food since she got you a non-food gift? If you grab a candy bar from the vending machine and wrap a ribbon around it, is that enough? Will it be weird if you only give one to Sally? How many candy bars are in the vending machine, anyway? And where can you get some ribbon at this point?

That’s why you might want to consider the Grinch route. Basically, you wish people Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, maybe a Happy Hanukkah. And then, you just go through your regular days.

It helps if you take all your stored up “use it or lose it” personal time during the holidays.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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