Soccer sisters and secret Santas

Eric Wong

Secret Santa gift exchanges can make a team closer, but only if the players try

“Who did you get?” was the question of the day for girls soccer as each player received a slip of paper indicating who they had as a “secret sister.”  Best friends secretly pulled each other aside as they whispered to each other, comparing names and discussing possible gift ideas. Some expressed relief at having people they knew well while others grimaced at the prospect of thinking of gift ideas for teammates they only knew by name.

The truth of the matter is,
not everyone can be great friends with everyone else.  People will invariably get along with some people better than others.  To hope that perhaps a gift exchange can somehow alter reality and create social reform is simply too idealistic.

I imagine one of two scenarios: either you unfold your slip of paper delighted with drawing your best friend or you wonder who the person you drew is.  In the latter case, is there still an incentive to put any effort into coming up with gift ideas?  Absolutely not. 

With this dilemma, I propose an alternative method to approach secret Santa gift exchanges to ensure maximum holiday spirit and cheer.  While sophomore Sophia Tiene on the junior varsity soccer team contends that having a gift exchange is a great way to get to know teammates that are in another grade, I believe that the goal of a secret Santa is to provide teammates a chance to get spoiled by little gifts that they can show off and talk about.  A good gift exchange present isn’t necessarily the most personal item but something small that shows effort, even if you are not well acquainted with the person you are giving the gifts to.

Together, the team can spend some time passing around the big bag of chocolates, breaking off a piece from the big plate of homemade brownies, and starting a conversation about what gifts each player has received. These kind of moments are what forge bonds and build trust which can lead to team chemistry on the playing field. 

Team bonding isn’t just a holiday special though.  With all the clubs, organizations, and teams that we join as high school students, we are showing our need to belong to something — reassurance that we matter to others.  We should always take the time to smile at the people around us and engage in a bit of small talk to develop the personal connections that each of us seek. 

It may not always be the season for giving, but it can always be a time to cherish the people around you.