At me office we had our Christmas Party Thursday last we did. But before the party we had the secret Santa fiasco, where weeks ahead we all pulled names out of a hat and had to buy a gift costing no more than $5.00, wrap it, but the name of our person on a tag, and leave it under the small Charlie Brown office Christmas tree.
It is very hard to find anything for $5.00 but if one goes to the Dollar Store, well now, problem solved. Otherwise, one would be tempted to buy over the amount and it is stipulated in no uncertain terms NOT TO DO THAT. But truly it makes re-gifting hard as well if one wanted to go THAT route as one doesn't truly know the price of the unwanted gift.
As I say, the Dollar Store was me only choice. OH for sure there be Staples, and most stores have aisles where one can buy sundry items at very little cost. I did try Staples thinking that that is just what someone would want, more office supplies when they can go to our supply closet and get whatever for free! I must say to the person who recommended Staples to me, I may find a pen for $5.00 but little else unless one wants to buy the next cheapest item, a Bankers Storage Box for $12.00. Something one might want that isn't found easily in the office supply closet would be ink. Forget the price of an ink cartridge way too much! So Dollar Store was me destination.
I found a variety of cake mixes for $4.50 and I could buy one of those with a small can of frosting attached, AND for $1.50 more I could throw in paper plates! Yes, genius I thought, once the cake is baked the lucky recipient will have paper plates to serve it on! There ya go, done! I know I exceeded me limit but not by much.
Me only big problem was wrapping the round canister of cake mix with the paper plates. When I finally got finished it looked like what it was, a platter at least on the bottom with a canister of cake mix probably on top. Oi! Well, beggars can't be choosers and that's how me secret Santa gift looked and well, I put it covertly under the office tree with the rest of the gifts that it wasn't too hard to figure what they were by the odd wrappings.
I be not a wrapper and well the wife be busy and the mother has arthritis, so it was all up to me and I made a right mess of it I did, but it was wrapped! Sort of.
The person's name I got was one Mary McGee and I do not know her or even what she looks like. I was hoping she liked to bake and then eat what she baked. In me masculine mind, baking and paper plates were the ideal.
Thursday, before the office Christmas Party, we all gathered around the pathetic tree to open our secret Santa gifts. Before I go any further, may I say the tree is fake, it has been around since I've been working at the office and it was around long (I think) before I was born. It is gnarly and most of the toilet brush fibres that make up the tree are missing (thus, the reference to Charlie Brown), and almost all the arms are missing except maybe five. It is over decorated to make up for its deficiencies.
So there we were standing around this thing when one of the bubbly mail persons (dressed like an elf) came down the aisle shaking sleigh bells to get everyone who wasn't already at the tree, out of their cubicles so we could start the gift exchange.
Once all of us were out, and I must remark it looked like none us got out from our cubicles much or maybe it was the florescent lighting, be we all looked pale and greenish almost like a group of Grinches ready to go grinching upon the world. Our elf looked around and shushed us as we could hear more jingle bells and someone shouting, "HO, HO, HO!" and sure enough there was Santa coming up the aisle with another two elves (also from the mail room). I counted meself lucky I wasn't selected to "play the role" of Santa since (as you well know) I be the go-to-guy to "play the role" of the Easter Bunny. One fantastical creature is enough.
To get on with this painful episode, Santa began calling out the names on the gift tags and that person would go up, get their prize and open it in front of everyone. I will say the gifts were tame and tedious.
The name Mary McGee was called out and I literally cringed, because I just felt like what I bought was cheap and it was! Before I even saw her I overhear two women behind me and one says, "Oh Mary McGee, isn't she the one that lost 250 lbs.?" and the other says, "Yes, and have you seen how good she looks! Must be a size 0 now."
Uh oh, I thought to meself but too late! There she was this wee whisp of a person, red faced in embarrassment for her turn at being the centre of attention, looking very svelte in her ugly Christmas sweater, her shoulders hunched up around her ears in delight of receiving a present.
"Oh, oh," the woman behind me said, "Deb, is that what I think it is? Looks like plates and something on top, I hope it isn't fattening food, she'll just plotz." OH YEAH IT IS! I wanted to turn and shout it at them but I found I was trying to shrink me tall self so I wouldn't be towering above the crowd, me red face giving the gift giver away. Oh you don't know the angst and agony. I was thinking of grabbing the present and running or shouting out, "Wrong Mary McGee! Take that present over there, THAT'S hers!" I did not do any of those things it was too late, she had the suspicious looking gift in hand and was totally clueless unlike most of us, and with a rip of the paper, it was pulled back to expose the fattening cake mix with canned icing on top and a barrage of cheap paper plates to eat it off.
The look on her face was of shock and I was waiting for her to burst out in tears and me having to give it up that it was ME who gave her such an awful gift and me going forward taking the wee thing in me arms to comfort the great sobs, and me saying I had no idea, and how wonderful she looked, and maybe she could bake that cake, ice it and have a piece because she deserved it. Nah, that wouldn't fly and I knew it. But it was a miracle, all me thoughts disappeared as her look of shock turned into a look of pleasure.
"This is wonderful, I have been wanting to treat myself with a taste of something sweet," she looked around embarrassed, "just a little something sweet and this is just perfect. I can bake the cake and frost it, and serve it to my department and the best is I get a little taste." And that was it.
"Lucky for you she took that well." A voice said behind me.
I turned to see Cruella looking at me with amusement.
"How did you know it was me?" I whispered.
"You always try to shrink yourself when you feel you are in trouble. I recognised the shrink."
I rolled me eyes and she promised she'd never tell, "it will be our little secret," said she. Which I know it will be until she wants something like making me go with her on another sea sick whale watch or for a ride in that shark monster boat at the seaport. Yeah I know how she works.
I know you are wondering what I got. Well, I got a luscious caramel apple. It was a core less apple that had a thick layer of caramel over it, rolled in wee white and dark chocolate bits, with sprinkles. It was in a lovely holiday box and sheathed in a cellophane wrapper. I was very happy with that as you know, food be a hobby especially sweets and anything that has to do with chocolate.
|Almost too pretty to eat, I tell ya!|
I got home, I fed the animals because if I didn't attend to them first I would get no peace at the dinner table. Usually, when I be cooking by meself I have the telly on for company and this was no exception. I ate me dinner, had me a glass of white wine, and realised I had no dessert. But then it dawned on me I did have dessert, I had me caramel holiday apple!
I poured more wine, got a sharp knife and opened that sucker up. Yup it was a thing of beauty it was, and I couldn't wait. I cut one huge side off and sat munching, savouring it R. Linda! The juicy apple combined with the sticky sweet caramel, the chocie bits crunching along with the green, white and red sprinkles. I was in hog heaven, piece after heavenly piece I was UNTIL . . . this came on the evening news:
"The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans not to eat packaged caramel-coated apples, the suspected source of a multi-state Listeria outbreak that's killed at least four people.
"Of 26 people hospitalised with Listeria food poisoning, five have died, and the bacteria was a definite factor in four of the deaths, the CDC reported. Fifteen of 18 Listeria patients who've been interviewed said they'd eaten commercially produced, packaged, caramel apples before they became sick.
"The CED is urging consumers to avoid all packaged caramel apples -- including those with nuts, candy sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings."
Me chewing had gone from total enjoyment to slow chews, as I listened and then looked at me empty cellophane wrapper and the stick completely devoid of apple. UH OH! There was no mention of what brands so I didn't know if I had a tainted apple or not!
I was pacing wondering when the sickness would come upon me when the family came home all cheery to see me worried and pale face. When asked what was the matter I told them, the kiddos brushed it off with a shrug and ran to play, me own grey haired apple cheeked mam shrugged and said, "well be glad yer not an American." And me wife informed me sorry arse that it took 3 days for Listeria to raise it's ugly head. So until then enjoy life and off she went to wrap presents.
That's what I call sympathetic . . . NOT!
Well, we be on day number 2 and notta twinge, I be still alive and standing. I know that will get one of me followers upset that I be not in hospital, grovelling in pain on a gurney (and you know who you are), and the rest need not be sympathetic, it seems to be going so far so good, I may be around to write a few more stories. Though when I told the Captain, who I happened to email me sorry tale, he said it was karma getting me back for giving Ms. McGee a fattening present. Well, Cappy not yet mate, not yet.
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