AHS students share how they are continuing to take part in their Secret Santa traditions over Zoom.

Abigail Manalese

Staff Writer

     Freezing cold mornings, windows frosting over, and chattering teeth are all happening indoors this year as the state of California is put on a stay-at-home order this holiday season. Friend groups at American High School are still searching for ways to continue the holiday spirit with their friends and families. One of these traditions is still persevering through this time—Secret Santa. The tradition includes friends, and sometimes strangers,  anonymously giving each other presents within a certain monetary limit. 

     Some friend groups create wishlists in the case that they receive someone they do not know too well, others rely on the closeness of their relationships to determine what gifts to get to each other. Amanda Tran, a junior at American High School has been partaking in this holiday tradition since middle school. For her, the extra distance this year is not a problem.

     “Five of us go to American, and the other four go to different schools. There’s two near Dublin, one in Mountain House, and the other goes to Irvington. We’re planning on dropping off our gifts to each other” Amanda Tran (11).

     Part of the Secret Santa tradition is the gift recipient being unaware of what their anonymous gifter has chosen to give them as a present. Some students have opted to mail these secret gifts through shipping services like Amazon or Etsy. Valeria Sanchez Estrada, a member of American’s color guard team, is sending her gifts through the mail this year.

     “We have about 20 people participating this year, so we’re shipping our presents directly to each other” Valeria Sanchez Estrada (12).

Picture of wishlist website Elfster, where students can write their mailing address and create a wishlist for their Secret Santa to choose from. Shreya Patil (12) is pictured as the organizer for the 2020 Mock Trial Secret Sant

     There have been some security concerns in regards to knowing students’ individual home addresses, resulting in some students opting out of the holiday tradition, or limiting it strictly to friends. For the most part, however, students seem to trust each other with their home addresses in hopes for some holiday goodies.

     When students were asked as to why they put in the effort to continue and push past California’s holiday lockdown restrictions, Saachi Baldwa, a member of American High School’s mock trial team, believed the tradition helped her get to know her team members better. 

     “It’s just a really fun activity that lets [the mock trial team] bond with each other, because we don’t really know each other that well, and I get to figure out what they like from their wishlists” Saachi Baldwa (11). 

     One of her teammates, Nitin Bharadwaj had a different viewpoint, likening it to ordinary boredom. Though the two agree that the lack of human connection this year is what inspired him to continue with the tradition.

     “[I did Secret Santa this year] because I have nothing interesting going on in my life. I have to connect with my friends in some way” Nitin Bharadwaj (11).

     While friends and family would normally meet up around the time when school has been put on break, many are restricted from leaving in an attempt to diminish the rising COVID-19 cases. The physicality of gift giving has been another way for American High School students to remind each other of the human connection aspect that is lacking this holiday season. It seems that American’s elves are trying their best to help stay connected while staying at home.

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