Still Life With Lego Blocks, 'Handerpants,' and Peach Pits.

Holiday gifts

2022 ended up not being the annus horribilis that we all thought it might be. Thankfully, with the passing of the pandemic came a newfound sense of freedom and happiness.  

To gauge the sentiment of the team that drives the Tactis engine forward, we thought we would pose a few fun questions. First, we asked employees what the worst Secret Santa gift was that they had ever received. Next, we asked them what was the one holiday gift that they’d never been able to throw away. Last, but not least, we asked them to name one wish that would make the phrase Happy New Year (2023) actually mean something to them. The answers – unsurprisingly – turned out to be as creative, colorful, and varied as the human capital (fancy phrase for ‘awesome people!’) that make up the Tactis cohort. 

Bethany Ward, Tactis’s Marketing Specialist, kicked off the questionnaire with a very generational Nightmare-On-Elm-Street-type-answer about how, one year, she received a ‘creepy baby doll’ with one eye stuck shut and, in her words, ‘I thought it was haunted (and to be fair, it probably was)’. The gift she has never been able to throw away is a polaroid camera gifted to her by her mom, which no longer works but that continues to occupy a place on her bookshelf. (We can only assume she threw the doll away). As for her New Year’s wish, her hope is to be able to stick to some sort of ‘interesting hobby.’ (Polaroid photography lessons?)  

Joe Weaver, Tactis’s intrepid Senior Project Manager, once received a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants socks which, despite being pretty cool, developed a hole almost immediately, which begs the question: If you keep darning a sock, at which point is it no longer the same sock? Believe it or not, the one gift that Joe somehow has never been able to throw away is a necklace with an actual tiny piece of pizza encased in clear laminate as a pendant. Perhaps Joe’s not a fan of Papa John’s. That, or the margarita tidbit had passed its sell-by date. Hey, here’s an idea, why not regift this morsel of madness to a prepper friend, Joe? We hear they stockpile food. 

Speaking of food, Senior HR Generalist, Kathy Ruiz does not like fruit cake, which is why, when she received a fruit cake as a Secret Santa gift, she almost tossed her cookies. The one gift Kathy is unable to throw away is a Kokopelli doll that she was once gifted, which may or may not be haunted. On this subject, might we suggest Kathy checks in with Bethany? For her New Year’s wish, Kathy hopes that everyone struggling in life can live a happy, healthy life, and love and forgive those who may have wronged them. Kathy here’s hoping you’ve forgiven the fruit cake-giver that trespassed against you.  

Kelly Logan’s Chevrolet-branded outdoor thermometer is not a bad gift if one wants to measure climate change caused by gas guzzlers. Otherwise, as a present, it leaves Kelly cold. An herb planter, where the word ‘parsley’ was misspelled as ‘pardley,’ was only fractionally better. ‘It was discounted because of the spelling mistake,’ says Kelly, ‘and we laughed so hard when we saw it that my mother ended up buying it for me.’ She still has it. 

But it is Tactis Managing Director, Todd Coen’s, ‘handerpants’ that take the cake. For the uninitiated, ‘handerpants’ are basically fingerless gloves that look like underwear. ‘I mean why would I want to wear underwear on my hands for everyone to see?’ asks Todd, incredulously. As for the one gift that Todd has never been able to throw away, ‘We were once given a holiday cloche from a friend who bought it from a shared artist friend. However, the cloche was garish with plastic flowers, Lego people, and tinsel. When it was presented to us, our friends were so effusive about this wonderful piece of DIY art that we were torn about whether they were being serious or not. We haven’t been able to bring ourselves around to getting rid of it in case they really were that excited about it.’ It now takes pride of place in a dark corner of Todd’s basement, alongside a pair of gently worn ‘handerpants.’  

Probably the silliest silent Santa souvenir Lynne Tingley ever received was a battery-operated tabletop crumb-dust sweeper (batteries not included.) A white sweater given to her by her father, the last gift he went out and bought for her, is the one gift she can never part with.   

Like Joe Weaver, Group Engagement Director Rebecca Rodriguez can’t think of a bad gift she has ever received. This leads us to conclude that Rebecca might in fact have a gift for denial. And since, in her estimation, there’s no such thing as a bad gift, the girl from Bombay must still be in possession of every single gift ever given to her.  

On the other hand, Tactis Art Director Jacob Corbin was once gifted a 64-pack of toilet paper, both the best and worst gift a 23-year-old living on his own for the first time could receive. The one gift that Jake has never been able to throw away is, to use his words, ‘A little animal carving my grandfather made from dried peach pits.’ Jake might want to reconsider regifting this pièce de resistance to Todd. Picture the scenario: Still life with Lego blocks, ‘handerpants,’ and peach pits? Might even start a new art craze. Of course, the one wish that would make Jake’s 2023 unforgettable is ‘a Nationals or Padres World Series Championship.’ Jake, without being overtly skeptical, Lynne’s battery-operated tabletop crumb-dust sweeper might have a better chance. 

Tim Maciejewski, Tactis’s Marketing Program Manager, cannot remember a single Secret Santa gift he has ever received. Says Tim, ‘I guess they’ve all been pretty bad?’ Might we acknowledge that it might have nothing to do with the gift, but with Tim’s memory? We hear the ‘Pakalolo’ is good in Hawaii. The one gift that Tim has never been able to throw away is a glass globe paperweight. ‘I have zero need for a paperweight,’ says Tim, ‘but can’t bring myself to get rid of it.’ Here, might we suggest Tim talk to Jake? He somehow found a way of getting rid of 64 rolls of toilet paper. 

The worst Secret Santa gift Jim Horton ever received was a toilet seat picture frame. Jim, here’s an idea, why not regift this melamine masterpiece to Rebecca? There is apparently not a gift that she hasn’t liked yet. Understandably, the one present he has never been able to throw away is a baseball cap given to him by his father when he was still a boy. And the one wish for 2023 is the ability to fill his gas tank without taking out a second mortgage. The way things are going with the world, Jim might want to consider selling a kidney. 

As someone who hates working out, Lily Abebe’s worst Secret Santa gift was a set of 15lb dumbbells. (Must have been quite a stocking!) A set of 10-year-old holiday socks, worn to the ground, are the two possessions Lily seems unable to throw away. Add to that the dumbbells, which are at this point still too heavy to toss.  

The worst secret Santa gift Craig Strydom ever received was a boomerang. (Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or just another ornament you take with you each time you move house?) For obvious reasons, the one gift that Craig has been unable to throw away is also a boomerang. 

Roger Terry’s worst silent Santa gift was a car vacuum cleaner that had basically zero suction (name one that does!) Roger might consider borrowing Lynne’s battery-operated tabletop crumb-dust sweeper if it’s not too busy winning the World Series. The one gift Roger seems unable to throw away is his childhood Christmas stocking from 30+ years ago. Roger, might we suggest therapy? Mrs. Havisham-syndrome is a real thing.   

Vivien Rivera’s wish for 2023 is to be able to give back to her family, to help them more. That, and to travel more. Again, might we suggest Hawaii? We hear the ‘Pakalolo’ is good over there. 

For someone who does not own a cat, Grant Barnette’s most loathed secret Santa gift was a selection of cat toys. Time to nip that cat problem in the bud, bud. Might we suggest you get a cat? As for a gift he seems unable to dispose of, Grant is quick to cite an old iPod once given to him by his grandfather. Grant, might we suggest you regift the iPod to Bethany. She could display it alongside her equally obsolete polaroid camera.  

And the list goes on. Teetotaller Chris Hockman once received a bottle of wine from secret Santa which he simply regifted (duh!). Marina Alvarado, conversely, once received a very old candy bar. That, too, was regifted. Had she known Chris at the time, they might have traded. In fact, Chris has a twin sister. Continents apart, they have matching shirts that both received for the holidays. Neither sibling is willing to part with their respective shirts. Tina Rust, on the other hand, seems unable to part with a ‘fabulous’ leopard print blanket (each to their own, Tina!). Stacey Howard should talk to Tina Rust. Stacy has a useless (useless in the age of crypto) coin purse her grandmother gave to her which she too seems unable to part with. Add to that Marina Alvarado’s little manger scene also given to her by her grandma. (Marina, we hear Todd might be expanding on his tchotchke-cum-art installation in the new year).  

In closing, a variety of wishes were expressed for 2023. These include financial freedom (Powerball); getting healthy (Lily’s dumbbells come to mind); traveling more (Hawaii!); an assortment of wishes of love and forgiveness (esp. to fruitcake-givers), and some wishful thinking (Tim’s wish for his kids to do their homework).  

Here’s wishing all at Tactis a happy holiday and a fruitful new year!