Too Early For Santa?

It’s not even Halloween and the ladies in my office have already started their “Secret Santa” club. Basically, they make a list of things they like, draw names out of a hat and spend the next three months surprising each other with anonymous gifts. At random times, I’ll hear someone scream “Secret Santa!” at the top of their lungs and know that she must have scored a present. Immediately, all the women gather to watch her open it.

Fortunately for me, they figured since I was the only guy in the office, I didn’t want to go anywhere near such a girly venture, which was absolutely true. Imagine explaining that one to my wife. Yeah, Honey, it’s this really cool thing where I buy another woman dozens of gifts to make her feel special. Isn’t it great?

So, I was off the hook for last year’s Secret Santa Girl Club, but eventually they all felt sorry for me and started leaving random gifts on my desk. I think I was the only one who had the true Santa experience, anonymous giving with no possibility of reciprocation. It was awesome.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were having lunch at a local steakhouse called Malone’s. It’s one of the nicer restaurants in Lexington, so we’ve only eaten there a couple of times since we’ve lived here.

At the end of our meal, the waiter came to our table and asked, “Did you know that couple who was sitting over there?” He gestured across the room to an empty booth.

I shook my head.

“Well,” the waiter said, “they just bought your lunch.”

Secret Santa struck again.

Whoever had taken care of the check just decided it would be fun to make someone’s day. How cool is that? I mean as hard as it is to give your money away, it’s even harder to do it in secret. No one’s going to pat you on the back or shower you with heartfelt thanks.

Stealth giving offers no remuneration except the simple virtue of being generous.

That’s why Jesus was all about it. He said when you give, don’t announce it with trumpets. Just do it quietly. Be sneaky about it. If you’re in it for the attention, that’s all the reward you get, but if you want to honor God with your generosity, just do it for Him. Pleasing God and growing in your faith will be way more satisfying than showcasing your sacrifice.

I like the idea of secret giving, but not the practice of it. When I actually go to do it, I feel resistance in my soul. Covert goodness does not come naturally. If I’m going to commit an act of kindness, it would be nice if everyone knew about it, right?

Hey, look at me! I’m actually not being selfish for 30 seconds. Check it out. I’m really spiritual over here.

Maybe that’s why secret giving is just what the doctor ordered. It’s the perfect prescription to remedy two of my most fatal spiritual diseases: infectious greed and chronic pride. It’s sad when I realize how much time I worry about my stuff and what other people think of me. Anonymous generosity neutralizes both issues and sets me free to live and to give.

Maybe this week we should all take a cue from the couple who bought my lunch. Keep your eyes open for a chance to make someone’s day. Pay for a stranger’s meal. Send an elderly lady a bouquet of flowers, or maybe just slip a $20 in an envelope and leave it at a deserving door.

I guess the women in my office had it right after all. Secret Santa is always in season.

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