Unless it is a free for all kind of Christmas gathering and silly, funny or outright weird Secret Santa gifts are expected, finding the perfect Secret Santa gift takes up copious space in my mind if I know who the recipient is. Matching the recipient with a present unfolds in a personal competition with myself.

I too love being surprised by clever Secret Santa’s. The secret gift shines with extra glitter when it is handmade, home baked or thoughtfully selected with you, the recipient, in mind. That’s exactly what happened to me a little while ago.

At the Christmas breakfast with my library colleagues, my Secret Santa had wrapped a cute tiny gingerbread house tin containing a Lego challenge (my kind of toy) with the following note: “Dear Veerle, Secret Santa’s elves failed in their Xmas delivery so IOU 1 present. Luckily, Santa found this for you to enjoy today…” I thoroughly enjoyed building several colourful birds with only 32 Lego bricks.

Some time later Secret Santa reveals herself when she pops in the library and hands me a present, apologetic about the delay. But do I mind receiving gifts after their due date? Absolutely not!

Secret Santa’s Christmas card reveals a stunning folding-out paper cut of the Notre Dame in Paris (and in Vietnam I learnt). A fantastic start to being surprised I’d say. Then comes the rectangle present, its weight a bit of a mystery. Definitely not a book or socks. As I carefully remove the wrapping paper, a whitish box with a lovely swirly design appears. A jigsaw puzzle! How did Santa know I have been looking for a different kind of puzzle for a while?

I comment on the difficulty of the puzzle: so many white to piece together… Eagerly I open the box and see inside some card on top of a purple bag containing the puzzle pieces. At first glance I notice that these pieces don’t look white at all. In fact their colours do not fit the picture on the box.

The final clue is the folded card on top of the pieces. My jaw drops when I open it fully – a most stunning, detailed picture of some of my favourite things: books, a library, a reading chair, a waterlily pond.

Has your Secret Santa, like mine, given you such a thoughtful gift?  

P.S. Interested in finding out why I am so fond of waterlilies – thanks to Belgian Queen Fabiola’s stories for children she wrote in 1961? Drop me a comment.

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