My Christmas memory involves the office where I worked before going to nursing school. The office personnel was entirely female, which in my experience, is never good. If that's not PC, sorry.
It was the end of November, post Thanksgiving, and thoughts were turning to the approaching holidays. Someone, I can't recall who, reminded the staff that we'd better sign up for the Pollyanna.
The Pollyanna, according to Wikipedia, is a gift exchange solution to giving a gift to everyone in a particular group. It is often employed in offices, social groups, and large families. Each member of the group puts their name on a small piece of paper and drops that piece of paper into a hat or bowl. The bowl or hat is then passed about and each person selects a paper. Whoever's name is on the paper is your Pollyanna person. Often there are gift suggestions on that paper as well. There is almost always an agreed price range, perhaps $25-$30.
If a person selects their own name, they are supposed to return the paper and pick another. I have seen people return a name when it is someone they don't like. A woman I know hated Pollyanans because no one in her family wanted her to pick their name as she was the youngest and was not working. So she'd end up crying every year until she joined the work force at age fifteen.
Back to my office. The first and only Christmas in that office, I had the utter nerve to suggest an alternative to the cherished Pollyanna. I said that since we all had jobs and were so fortunate and had so many things, perhaps we might consider donating our gift money to some needy soul within our own company. There were many who'd fallen on hard times. One of the guards had a wife who was very ill, needing very expensive treatments. He was working all the time and taking care of her, surely he could use some extra funds.
A unit secretary who had become a parent to her daughter's children, when the daughter and her husband were killed in a motor vehicle accident, was struggling to make ends meet. To top that off, her hours had been cut recently due to cost cutting within our system. Did I mention that the insurance her daughter and son-in-law left barely covered the funereal?
There were others in dire straits, who could have used some money far more than any of us could use body lotion or a CD (this was the 80's). But when I made my suggestion, I was shot down in flames. Everyone protested. One woman, Marion, was the loudest. "Why should we change what we've been doing? We like getting gifts!" she cried. "Yeah, yeah." the others joined in with their dissent.
It was more than apparent that I was in the distinct minority. I decided to decline the Pollyanna, a bold move, and donate my share to someone, but who?
Well, the answer came quickly. Marion, it seemed, was on our boss's hit list. Within the week, she was fired. Everyone was shocked. Right before Christmas? Not that there's a good time to get fired but how Scrooge-like. Even the Grinch would have cringed.
Marion was in her 60's, never educated past high school and had no descernable skills. Before attacking about the age, like it or not, it is a factor in hiring. Five people I know were just "let go" and replace by a people in their 20's. Of the five, none were under 55. Coincidence? Really? Marion was not the sharpest knife in the drawer but the situation was sad, nonetheless. Her job was filing, that's all. Of the few skills required for that was a working knowledge of the English alphabet, the base ten numbering system, and fairly knimble fingers. She was allowed to sit on a stool as she filed. She had a hard time filing all the charts in a timely matter. To top that off, it seemed that she'd made numberous errors filing charts in totally wrong spots. To think that now that job is all but obsolete.
Marion gathered her things and was escorted out by security, as was and still is the practice in many companies. Almost at once, it was decided to can the Pollyanna and give our gift money to Marion. Someone bought a money tree and we all placed the donations on the plastic branches. Marion accepted the tree with a gratitude and noticeable humility.
Now you may think I fabricated this tale, but it's true. The irony is never lost on those with whom I've shared this story. Yet sadly, they still cling to the gift exchange, after all, they love getting gifts.