You wouldn’t understand…it’s a secret

Bethany Bergschneider, Editor

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Cookies, fuzzy socks, Hallmark movies, reindeer, snow, mistletoe, trees, ornaments–all of these are staples of the Christmas season. The list could go on and on. Even bigger than all those tangible items that we normally associate with Christmas is one universal tradition that unites us all and makes the holiday season so special: giving. Every year, FHS teachers and administration put a fun twist on traditional Christmas gifts by participating in Secret Santa.

In Secret Santa, all participants draw someone’s name and give that person secret Christmas gifts throughout December. Participants fill out a sheet with information about their hobbies, interests, and favorite food, teams, and characters to provide ideas for whomever is giving them gifts.

However, that doesn’t mean that teachers stay within that list when they’re choosing what to give. Participants give and receive gifts of all shapes and sizes, ranging from a bag of candy to a Mr. Smith-themed photo collage (currently hanging in Ms. Reed’s room). “Last year, Mr. Waggener had me. He’s a die-hard Cardinals fan and he gave me a Cubs Yeti (cup), so he had to swallow his pride for that,” said Mr. Nelson.

Some of the gift-giving can get intense. “Darin let me into the school building late one night on a weekend so I could put a Charlie Brown tree in Mr. Courier’s office,” said Mrs. Bergschneider. Ms. Scannell even went so far as to make a fake email account in order to send Mrs. Lancaster messages from The Office characters. 

For Mrs. Bergschneider, giving personalized and creative gifts makes Secret Santa extra special. Two years ago, when she had Ms. Scannell, she took an unconventional approach to gifting. “I thought that since she was an English teacher she might enjoy getting a little story, so I wrote a story segment for every few days and gave her a gift that went along with it. I had a lot of fun with it.”

Another interesting Secret Santa gift is Ms. Reed’s posters. “My first year here, I jokingly put Mr. Smith as my favorite character, and now I have a shrine of Mr. Smith in my room. Then, the next year, Mr. Tabeek got me again, and he gave me a Mr. Morris poster. So I’m hoping for a third poster this year, hopefully Mr. Tabeek.”

Who your Secret Santa is, hence the name, is a secret, which adds a layer of suspense to receiving gifts. “My favorite part is at the very end when we have the Christmas breakfast with everyone and give the final gift and reveal who gave people their gifts. Right now, I have my first little gift and I’m constantly thinking about it and trying to guess who it is,” says Mr. Nelson. Ms. Reed also enjoys trying to solve the mystery and piece together who drew whose names. “I definitely already know who about three people have, and it kind of goes from there, but there will still be some people at the end that I’m surprised about,” she explained.

Beyond all the fun and games, Secret Santa is a way for teachers to share some Christmas cheer. “I think it’s a way to form a connection with someone that you may not necessarily know very well,” says Ms. Reed. Mr. Nelson agrees. “It helps the staff get together and bond. It’s all about the culture.”