Before I dive in to this post, I need to give a quick overview of our neighborhood Secret Santa Process....
1) All of the children who live in the neighborhood who would like to participate are eligible. The participating family of the child needs to provide the child's name, likes and any food allergies to the Secret Santa Coordinator.
2) The Secret Santa Coordinator randomly assigns each child to a Secret Santa. The assignments are dropped off by the second week of December.
3) The Secret Santa is responsible for buying (or making) two smaller gifts and one large gift. The total cost of the gifts should not exceed $20.00.
4) Over the course of ~10 days, the Secret Santa shall drop off the two smaller gifts, on two different days, preferably at night. Those gifts should ideally be deposited directly before the door and the doorbell shall be rung. The Secret Santa must then HUSTLE as fast as they can in to the darkness before their identity is revealed.
5) The third larger gift is to be given at a "reveal" party, typically held on the last day of school before the school vacation.
Our Secret Santa assignments were delivered this past Thursday. By Friday, someone had dropped off the first gift for Henry. William's present was delivered on Saturday and Elizabeth's present was delivered on Sunday.
Carolyn was so upset that everyone's present has been delivered except for hers. She was crying tears of grief when I pulled her aside and said, "Listen, last year when everyone else was receiving fun presents, Elizabeth's Secret Santa dropped off her first gift (in our mailbox) two days before the reveal party. The second gift was dropped off (also in our mailbox) one day before the reveal party. And then, at the reveal party - Elizabeth received a toy that broke before we even walked out the door."
Carolyn wiped away tears and said, "That's SO sad!" But then she shook her head and said, "No! Don't you remember? Elizabeth received that little pink race car and SHE LOVED IT!!!"
''Yes,'' I admitted. ''But that was because after three of our four children had received two presents and Elizabeth had received none, Daddy and I were feeling badly that Elizabeth's Secret Santa was not participating, so Daddy sneaked away from dinner one night, left that present which I'd bought earlier in the day, rang the doorbell, and ran back before Elizabeth even noticed that he'd been gone."
(Edited to add: if you partake in a similar Secret Santa exchange, it's helpful to have a gift or two laying in wait just in case your Secret Santa defers their deliveries until the end of the event. This is particularly necessary if you have other children who are receiving presents on time and one child that feels completely left out. While the real joy in this event is the secrecy of giving, at this age - our children really enjoy the receiving part, too.)
For their first drop tonight, the kids dressed from head-to-toe in black. While I stayed home with Henry who was feeling ill, Charlie drove the kids around the neighborhood. He said it was absolutely hilarious because they acted like a bunch of little Marines. For each of the four houses that they delivered to, the kids would jump out of the car - zig zag run up to the house - ring the doorbell and then dive under bushes and belly crawl their way back to the car.
They're totally in to it.
As of tonight, they're referring to themselves as "Alpha Team, GO, GO, GO!"