I got the coolest, most inspirational, fun idea from a Facebook friend last night that I couldn’t wait to participate in – the Secret Sister Gift Exchange! That is, until some people tried to suck all the fun out of it.
If you remember my Yooper Postcard Experiment from earlier this year, you’ll know that I totally dig sending random, fun surprises to friends and perfect strangers. So when a friend of mine sent me this, I got really geeked up:
The Secret Sister is back!
I am looking for 6 (or more!!!) ladies who would be interested in a holiday gift exchange. Doesn’t matter where you live, you are welcome to join. You ONLY HAVE TO BUY 1 gift valued at $10 or more and send it to your secret sister. (Hello, Amazon!)
You will then receive anywhere from 6 to 36 gifts in return. C’mon – try it!! It will brighten up a Secret Sister’s day because of what you sent! Let me know if you are interested and I will message you info on your sister. We could ALL use some happy mail! Who’s in???? If I did not tag you, you are still welcome to participate!
Who knows??? Maybe we’ll get what we never knew we wanted!
(P.S. – Kritter again. The message also came with a ton of cute little Christmas and heart icons, which unfortunately didn’t convert well.)
Last night I lay awake in bed, thinking of how much fun it was going to be to send a thoughtful gift to a person who technically was only a stranger to me through one degree of separation. With a head full of shampoo lather this morning, I thought about how I could improve upon this concept even more. Why limit it to a gender or to a culture? I could call my re-shared version a “Secret Sister-Santa-Samaritan” and share this thoughtfulness with ALL of my friends!
Then the fun-sucking part happened. In my attempt to not screw up the details and make sure I sent a fun gift to the right person, I looked at the copy of the original message on my friend’s wall. In what I’m sure was an attempt to be helpful and not fun-sucking at all, she had received some replies warning, “Please don’t do it! It’s a scam.” Some folks even went so far as to share links from Snopes and TV news.
Like the good little girl that I am, I dutifully read and watched both of these news stories, because the last thing I would want to do is cause harm to people I really, really like.
The Better Business Bureau calls this a “pyramid scheme.” Oh, the horror! My summary of the article is that you get suckered into sending a complete stranger a $10 gift, and not only will you not get up to 36 gifts in return, you might not get any. <Gasp!>
Then, to make matters worse, the US Postal Service wants to throw you in Chain Letter Jail.
According to the USPS, “[Chain letters are] illegal if they request money or other items of value and promise a substantial return to the participants. [They] are a form of gambling, and sending them through the mail (or delivering them in person or by computer, but mailing money to participate) violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute.”
Nothing sucks the fun out of life faster than the US government, apparently.
It was then that I realized that this so-called chain letter, if you will, is one giant personal and social litmus test. I’m a big believer in that whatever it is that you throw out to the universe, be it love, fear, gratitude, suspicion, joy, or hate…the universe lobs it right back to you, in spades.
I may not have control over who makes the laws and who enforces them, nor do I have control over what anybody thinks or does outside of myself, but I will tell you this: I throw out to the universe that the world is good and kind. I have no control over the people who think that this “scam” is a sales pitch for Amazon, who don’t want to look stupid or duped for sending out a “chain letter,” or who worry that they’re going to end up in jail for “gambling.” I don’t own that stuff.
So here’s what I do own! Thanks to my friend’s thoughtfulness, I just dropped a gift in the mail to a complete one-degree-of-separation stranger, without any expectations of receiving anything in return. And it felt GOOD. And also a little rebellious: peaceful protesting in a world that can always use an extra helping of love, non-judgment and connectedness.
The father of peaceful protesting and the Yoda of awesome quotes, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in this world.” I couldn’t agree more! So I’m doing my small part to spread light and love. Because, to steal another quote, “In the midst of darkness, light persists.” Don’t be the fun sucker! Be the change.
Be happy, be well.