Secret Santa...

I'm a great believer in everything happening for a reason, which is why this week I wanted to get down a few words about something I've been involved with for a few years now.

For a little while, I've been a user of a website called Reddit, which is essentially like a forum of topical news stories, funny videos, and a place where you join separate "Sub-Reddit's" for all sorts of hobbies and interests you might have.

For about 10 years now, I've religiously browsed Reddit before bed, where I scroll through the posts on the "Front page of the internet" just before I shut my eyes for some kip.

A few years ago, I joined a particular subreddit, called R/SecretSanta.

Every year at the end of November, Reddit runs a secret Santa, where millions of people around the world are paired up with other Reddit users to buy gifts for one another. Think office-style Secret Santa, but on a MUCH bigger scale. The likes of Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg and other celebrities have taken part in previously, and the Secret Santa itself has picked up a number of Guinness World Records for being the largest of its kind.

They've actually run other exchanges too, throughout the year, where you can exchange anything from recipes right through to lego sets, cards, stamps, and all sorts.

The reason I'm blogging about it is though is because 2021 will be the last year Reddit runs its Secret Santa and all future exchanges are set to come to an end at the end of this year.

Over the years, I've joined a few different exchanges, including a '90s themed exchange, a Christmas ornament exchange and an automotive-themed exchange which was basically made for me!

I've received all sorts of gifts, right from books on 90's Britpop (which I have a particular soft spot for), canvas prints, books and this year even some Lego!

That however isn't the premise of Secret Santa though, as, for me personally, it was all about the giving of gifts, rather than what I could get out of the exchange. I've honestly had some really awesome people to buy for.

In Christmas of 2019, I was matched with a guy who was converting a Transit Van into a campervan ready to leave the shores of England and travel the world. It was awesome to get to know someone from a distance, research their interests and pick out gifts with just a limited understanding of who you were buying for. So, in that particular case, my giftee got a map of the world, where you could scratch off countries as you visited them, a rechargeable torch, and, as we shared an interest in a particular YouTuber who learns new all kinds of new skills (Check him out, his name is Mike Boyd and he challenges himself to grasp interesting tricks in the shortest time possible!) a cutthroat razor.

When I took part in the automotive exchange, I got paired with a live-in Nanny, who didn't have his own car but had the use of the family's car he was working for to transport their children. He couldn't modify the car, so I bought him a number of gifts to make his life a little easier, which included removable car organizers, air fresheners and a travel mug!

But, as much as it wasn't the receiving of gifts that made Secret Santa so memorable, I did however get one gift that was more than I ever asked for, in the form of Rachel.

As some of you will know, I actually met Rachel through Reddit Secret Santa in the 2019 Christmas exchange, where I was randomly selected to be Rachel's Giftee. As with any exchange, the gift-giving is all done anonymously, so when I got my box of goodies in the post from my "Santa", which included, a chocolate orange, a book on the grand tour, a box of Toffifee, and a card, I knew we had to keep in touch, as it was more than apparent she'd really taken the time to get to know me through the words she'd put down in the card.

We agreed to stay in touch, and the rest is well...History.

This brings me around nicely to something, I think it's important to think about, both in the run-up to Christmas and in general actually.

Whilst the whole world is going mad buying all sorts of things on Amazon, and piling into supermarkets to get the last turkey crown, remember Christmas isn't about the presents, sometimes the REAL gift is the people you get to share it with.

The very same thing can be said for weddings too. Your wedding doesn't have to be the biggest and most extravagant event in the world to be perfect. Some of the best weddings I've attended have been with small numbers of people, who are genuinely grateful to witness the 2 people joining their lives together.

And on that slightly soppy note. I'm going to call it there, for this week.

Peace, Love and Photos.

Jono x

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