Bad Santas.

It’s the thought that counts, right?

Well, I’ve received holiday gifts from past employers that seemed to say they didn’t think much of my contributions throughout the year, and made me wonder, “What the **** were they thinking?”

This posting will be followed by others that are not stories, just recollections of crummy Christmas gifts of employers past (names withheld and identifying details altered). Feel free to comment and share your own tales.

I worked at a non-profit in the late 90s, as part of a team of five writers who wrote proposals and marketing materials. The donated office space was in a lovely historic brownstone on Gramercy Park, but it was a no-frills job that paid little for the extra evening and weekend hours it demanded. The organization’s logo reminded we were contributing to “improved opportunities for those with less” with every proposal churned out, raffle organized and newsletter written. There  was no opportunity for our professional advancement, no raises or bonuses, and rarely any thanks or acknowledgment.

Well, that’s not entirely true. One year, twas the week before Christmas, I checked my employee mailbox and what before my bleary eyes did appear? Not reindeer but an oddly bulky interoffice envelope. The Director’s name was listed as the sender, though I recognized the handwriting as her assistant’s. I unwound the string, opened the flap and found my holiday, uh, bonus? Gift? Token of appreciation? I’m still not sure what to call it (at least in public) or what the Director was thinking when she had this and identical packages distributed to all of us on the writing team. We each received:

1. A “card”. I place it in quotation marks because it was a black-and-white photocopy of what looked like an unfilled coloring book page. It was festive, though: The words “Happy Holidays” were across the top and illustrated was Minnie Mouse wearing a Santa hat. Perhaps the Director thought we could color in the page with office highlighters during our lunch break?

2. One candy cane. It was one of those mini candy canes that are about two inches long and come in a strip of about one million mini canes wrapped in perforated plastic so you can tear off individual canes. Each of us received one mini.

3. One sample-sized bottle of hand lotion. The label on my bottle and those of my co-workers indicated the lotions were not meant for individual retail sale. We guessed the Director re-gifted the contents of a set. We were also certain that the lotion was either old or had not been stored properly because no amount of shaking could re-mix the separated clots and watery dribble that did not smell like lavender, as indicated on the label.

So really, what was the Director thinking?

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