CHICAGO — When Melvin Hasker received a gold tie clasp from an anonymous co-worker as part of his company’s annual “Secret Santa” gift exchange in 1967, he put it in a desk drawer and never thought much about it – that is, until Monday, when that former co-worker stepped out of the shadows and showed up on Hasker’s doorstep to take credit as the mysterious gift giver.
Bookkeeper John Krygner, 77, said he has been wanting to reveal himself as Hasker’s Secret Santa for almost 45 years, but was afraid of ruining the joy of the anonymous gift-giving ritual.
“Revealing myself to Mel had been on my mind every day since giving him the tie clasp – which, incidentally, I had monogrammed with the words ‘From Your Secret Santa’ — but I didn’t want to break with tradition,” explained Krygner. “Out of respect for the whole Secret Santa process, I kept my mouth shut.”
But Krygner just couldn’t contain himself, and after many sleepless decades, finally decided the time had come to “lift the veil of secrecy.”
45 years seemed just the right point in time, according to Krygner, “where the enjoyment factor of not knowing the identity of your mysterious benefactor would be outweighed by actually finding out who it is.”
Krygner tracked Hasker, 92, to a retirement home near Oak Park , and greeted the nonagenarian with a huge hug. He then asked the question that had been simmering in his mind for decades, “How do you like the tie clasp?”
Hasker stared blankly at his former colleague for a minute or two. He then said he didn’t recognize Krygner and had no recollection of ever owning a tie clasp.
Disappointed, Krygner spent the next two hours describing the gift in great detail, hoping it would trigger a hidden memory.
Finally, Hasker had enough. “Yes, dammit, I still have that fucking tie clasp!” he admitted. “I loved that tie clasp, and would revel daily in the mystery of the anonymous way in which it was given to me, but now you’ve ruined the whole Secret Santa experience, and I will never look at it the same way again.”
Hasker ordered Krygner to leave the premises and never to return. “It’s Secret Santa, you asshole! Secret! What don’t you get about Secret?”
A dejected Krygner lumbered slowly toward the exit. “Dammit!” he said. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.”