I know it’s been three days, and everyone’s like, “Ugh, so glad Christmas is over. Pass the champagne, and let’s make some hollow resolutions,” but bear with me here because I want to humblebrag about my boyfriend/his gifting skills for a minute.

Now that the wrapping paper has been torn to shreds and the nice gift bags have been carefully stored away to be recycled on new gift recipients next Christmas, I can finally share with you the mysterious secret project my boyfriend Mike was working on in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Usually I’m pretty adroit at figuring out my surprise gifts, but this was not one of those instances. I fully admit I had absolutely no idea what he was making. All I knew was that he was using the computer to make it and that it involved a series of pictures that he took of me (and that I took of him) in very specific poses:

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I thought perhaps he was making some kind of personalized Christmas story. When I pressed him for more information, he started claiming that in fact he didn’t get me anything for Christmas, and the project he was working on was actually a gift for his cousin (known as Cous’n Hemp’n). Now instead of getting snoopy with it and going through his computer for evidence, I did the only thing a rational person who respects Christmas surprises could do in this complicated situation: created a fake Gmail account to send my boyfriend an email from a fake officer from a fake agency. 

Dear Mr. Michael A. Hempen,

My records show that this email address is registered in your name. My name is Arnold Merciwell, and I’m an Officer for Evidence Collection at the Global Bureau of Christmas Investigations (GBCI). I’m writing you this afternoon on official business. The Rights and Licenses Division has flagged your gift for Cous’n Hemp’n. Based on the paperwork we have, you have not yet obtained the proper licenses to continue work on the aforementioned gift. Your licensure must be up-to-date prior to distribution.

To comply with GBCI guidelines, we require that you send a very detailed description about your Cous’n Hemp’n gift, along with any materials being used in its creation. You may send them in any format (.DOC, .PDF, .JPEG, etc.). Failure to surrender these materials within the next 3 business days will begin the seizure process. In the event of a seizure, a Writ of Workshop will be drafted and delivered to your residence. Within 24 hours, GBCI officials will repossess your gift to Cous’n Hemp’n. As you can see, it is imperative that you provide a highly detailed description of the gift.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

Best,

Arnold Merciwell
Officer for Evidence Collection
Global Bureau of Christmas Investigations (GBCI)
Because he’s always questioning authority (even with an agency as menacing as the Global Christmas Investigations Bureau!), he didn’t comply with Officer Merciwell’s request. Candidly, I think he underestimated how committed I was to this particular charade, so I had to send a follow-up email:

Good Afternoon, Mr. Hempen,

This is my second attempt to establish contact with you. I first reached out to you on Tuesday, December 16, 2014. Once again, my name is Arnold Merciwell, and I’m an Officer for Evidence Collection at the Global Bureau of Christmas Investigations (GBCI). I’m writing you again this afternoon to check the status of “Cous’n Hemp’n’s Gift.” As explained in my previous email (show below for your convenience), the Rights and Licenses Division has flagged your gift for Cous’n Hemp’n. Based on the paperwork we have on file, you have not yet obtained the proper licenses to continue work on the aforementioned gift. Your licensure must be up-to-date prior to distribution.

To comply with GBCI guidelines, we require that you send a very detailed description about your Cous’n Hemp’n gift, along with any materials being used in its creation. You may send them in any format (.DOC, .PDF, .JPEG, etc.). These materials must be submitted via email by the end of business today (Friday, December 19, 2014). If I do not receive the required documentation, a Writ of Workshop will be drafted and delivered to your residence. Within 24 hours, GBCI officials will repossess your gift to Cous’n Hemp’n. As you can see, it is imperative that you provide a highly detailed description of the gift.

Please respond at your earliest convenience.

Best,

Arnold Merciwell
Officer for Evidence Collection
Global Bureau of Christmas Investigations (GBCI)

When he didn’t respond to that, I knew I also had to create a fake letter, a realistic search warrant (I Googled), and several phony depositions from various people who might have knowledge about my surprise (like my boyfriend’s best friend, his cousin, me, etc.):

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Still no dice.

THEN, three days before Christmas, he told me that the project he was working on was ruined because the free software he was using put watermarks all over it when he tried to finalize it. The suspicious part of me thought, “This is clearly a lie to throw you off. Don’t fall for this. You’re so much better than this, Katie.” But the lie was so specific and the fear of this mystery continuing until the next gift-giving holiday was powerful enough to temporarily convince me that the whole thing was off! Weeks of wondering and plotting — wasted!

But then on Christmas morning, after we finished opening all our gifts, I finally got to see what he had been working on all this time:

It’s twenty minutes long, so here’s a brief synopsis: You might remember reading around Halloween-time that my cat Rorschach peed on my digital camera and broke it. Well, in the video, you get to see a dramatization of that discovery which leads to Rorschach facing off against my boyfriend’s dog Blu in a very special edition of Project Runway entitled Project Hunway. The pet costume fashion show that was meant to occur finally took place with Tim Gunn’s guidance, and we settled once and for all that Zac Posen is a smiley eyebrow man, someone pissed in Nina Garcia’s Cheerios, Heidi Klum’s accent is almost as bad as Sofia Vergara’s, and Blu is the ickier of the two animals.

Also, the video lead to me opening a box that contained a brand new digital camera (with a waterproof case) to replace the one soiled by cat urine!!!!!!!

So, yes, my Christmas was like a book with a really satisfying ending that tied up all the loose ends, and I hope your holiday was every bit as unpredictable (in the good way) as mine was. I invite you to brag about your awesome gifts of the present and past in the comments. No one will judge you here.

7 thoughts on “The Secret Christmas Project Reveal

  1. And there i was impressed that my husband bought me a gift i actually wanted (as opposed to a Claire’s Accessories green plastic ring in leiu of a Pandora bracelet that was his previous gift attempt). He’s clearly got a long long way to go.

Don't you sass me! ...Actually, please do.

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