It was an office job. It was my first Christmas at this company, and they did Secret Santa, which is where you anonymously buy a present for someone whose name you drew. Then there’s a party and Santa gives out all the presents. 

I drew the name of an older woman, and bought her a book.

When my name was called and I opened my present in front of everybody, it turned out to be a pair of cherry-flavoured edible underwear. 

I think I went into shock. I remember feeling it was like the scene in Carrie, where she’s onstage and they dump the pig’s blood on her. I was frozen, everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion.

I remember holding up the half-opened package and looking around the room.

I couldn’t tell who gave it to me. Nobody gave any sign. People nearby were laughing, maybe out of shock.

The person playing Santa was my boss. I’m not sure if he saw what it was. If he did, he pretended he didn’t. He was just bland and smiling.

I got off the stage and went to find my friends. On the way I passed our HR lady. I expected her to stop me and take me immediately for a debriefing, but she didn’t. 

When I found my friends and showed them, we were all really awkward. 

I think nobody wanted to call it out as awful, because the person who gave it to me could’ve been one of us, or nearby. Nobody wanted to be mean. So we pretended it was weird but also funny.

I went to the bathroom and threw it out. I washed my hands and put the wet paper towels on top so nobody would see it in the trash. And then I went straight home and went to bed.

I was really nervous about going to work the next day, but nobody said anything. In fact, nobody ever talked about it again. I never had any clue who gave it to me.

I didn’t report it because there was literally no upside. I didn’t want people criticizing me for complaining. I didn’t want to turn into “that girl who got the edible underwear.” I didn’t want people wondering why someone would have done that to me.

I was 21. The youngest person in the whole company. The most recent hire. And somebody gave me edible underwear as a Christmas present, in front of my boss and HR and the entire company. And got away with it.