December 6, 2019, Berlin, Germany.
I awake to discover a bag of chocolates placed in front of my hotel room door. It is St. Nicholas Day in Germany and it is traditional there for St. Nicholas to fill boots which children leave out the night prior with gifts and sweets. (Wikipedia)
This gesture left quite the impression with me.
Fast forward two weeks to December 20.
I stayed in my suite at the University of Toronto over Christmas. (I enjoyed the three weeks of undisturbed reading sitting beside my office fireplace. I doubt I will ever have the opportunity of this length of free time again. I digress.)
There will be fourteen students remaining in my residence college on Christmas Day, and my thoughts turn to doing something to mark Christmas Day for them.
I decide to play St. Nicholas.
3:00am on Christmas morning, I placed the bags in front of their doorways.
10:00am, one of the graduate students comes to my suite door. I open the door, my decoy bag still placed outside of it. I act as if I'm surprised by the decoy. It works, we say they walk over to thank me, but obviously I'm not the secret St. Nicholas.
Another graduate student walks down the hallway. They correctly assumed my decoy bag was just that, a decoy. We enjoyed a good laugh, strengthening our friendships.
I never admitted to playing St. Nicholas, but it was no secret either - however, I should've dressed up in costume.