I walked outside with bare feet and only a short-sleeved shirt on, no jacket. The temperature was about 44 degrees outside, which isn’t much for the East Coast contingent, but is starting to border on cold for Californians. By the end of the trip, I had regretted forgetting one of those items, and no, it wasn’t my shoes.
It was a beautiful night, though. It’s rained recently, it’s chilly, and there was a rather stiff north wind blowing today, and between the three, it’s always clearest night to look up. Tonight, as I stepped out, I could see Orion climbing up the sky from his perch in the east. Yes, it’s winter, when one of my favorite constellations disappears and the other one appears. (The other one is Scorpius, which I have some attachment to because it’s my birth sign, and it’s, just like Orion, very easy to spot in the summer sky.)
I walk across the street to the mailbox, wondering if a package has arrived. And sure enough, with the mail, there’s a key to the parcel mailbox in the mail. Sure enough, inside is a box for me, and the return address is labeled Secret Santa. I’m shivering by now, but I extract my package and finish pulling the mail out of the box, and head back across the street. In the west, the moon grins a Cheshire cat smile, almost as if it’s as happy as I am.
I distributed the mail to the various members of the household, set my box down and poked through the letters. Nothing interesting — well, that’s not quite true. One of the state job announcements I could most definitely do and it sounds fun — being part of the intrusion detection team at the California Franchise Tax Board, the folks who collect California’s state income tax. But I’m getting off subject. Finally, I pull out the box and prepare to open it.
Let me pause to explain. Believe it or not, Reddit has a Secret Santa tradition. You sign up for it — all that’s needed is an active Reddit account. On a certain day, signups close, and then they metaphorically shake the hat using fancy algorithms (that may or may not have been invented by Al Gore) and they match folks up in one long chain. That is, I give a gift to somebody who has a completely different person to give a gift to, who then has another person, and so on and so forth. Your gifter is not your giftee. 
So…this box was from my secret santa. Cool! What’s in it? Let’s open it up!
I have three different pocketknives/multitools with a blade on them. I have no idea where any of the three of them are, so I hack at the tape with the mailbox key. This took a bit. My Secret Santa put good tape on that sucker. But I hack at it valiantly and finally managed to get the box open. Here’s the moment of truth. What did Santa bring this year?
So, in the box were three very wonderful things. One of them is a classic Mario amiibo. If any of you know me, you know I love these things, and when I get my room cleaned up, I’m going to hang a beautiful shelf my papa made for me to hold them. I did actually have this one before, but it’s cool, because I had been toying with getting a second one to make a custom with Luigi’s classic NES colors. So now I have one to do that with!
The next thing is a deck of cards, but they’re not your ordinary playing cards. No! These are Writer Emergency Cards! So when you’re writing a story, there’s Idea Cards, which are illustrated and contain an idea, and Detail Cards, which give you helpful suggestions and specific tips. I haven’t pulled these out of their package yet, but it’s awesome!
And the last is a notebook. I love notebooks, and this one is pretty cool. It’s large (I love large notebooks) and it’s got faint lines on the page so you have the lines to center your writing, but it doesn’t get picked up in scans. I am certain I’ll get use out of this.
So this was a good Secret Santa haul.
And last, there was this wonderful note buried in the box.
I love reddit Secret Santa, and mine in particular.
 At this point my brain wandered off on a tangent involving a secret santa group I was in freshman year. I’ll explain later.