So, I have Tourette Syndrome which means I make weird noises and movements sometimes yada yada yada. Luke nicknamed me “Puppy,” because when I make the weird sounds I apparently sound like a small, helpless animal...a puppy. I don't mind this name at all, in fact, I kind of like it! I know it's out of love and not just another way to make fun of me. Well maybe a little, but it’s pretty funny! Anyways I was on my way to class, with multiple people from STAC texting me, wondering where I was. So I walk into the class, late with everybody chanting and shouting my name: “PUPPY! PUPPY! PUPPY!” My stomach immediately dropped. It was the same type of feeling that you get when you’re on an elevator going down. My heart started pounding out of my chest. I could feel myself smiling so hard. I could sense my cheeks blushing. I have not felt the same way that I did at that moment in a very long time.
I looked around the room to the heartwarming sight of everybody else's faces smiling right back at me. Then I noticed there was a very large chair in the smack in the center of the room. “Happy Shostegigi.” I have never heard of that name before. Considering I am new to STAC, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into. That long, strange, and complicated name stands for “STAC Holiday Stealth Gift Giving." Which basically means Secret Santa with a twist. A month prior to this day, everybody in the class was given a specific person to get a gift for and create a handmade gift. This year we had to make a small, mini “closet.” These closets had to represent the person you were given. They could be filled up with little stuff that reminds you of the person, or whatever you wanted to do. On this day, we were presenting the closet to the class. It was up to them to figure out who it belonged to. So it is a guessing game based on a small mini closet.
So let’s fast-forward a little. I'm sitting down on the table, because us STACies are weird like that. I'm watching everybody present their closets and give gifts to their people. The next person that went up was someone that I was sitting right next to while she was making it. Because of this, I was so sure it couldn’t have been mine. So she continued to show off her closet and it was very… Me. While she was making it, I never really noticed that everything on her box complimented me perfectly. Inside the closet was jewelry and I am always wearing chains and rings. There were “Halsey” album covers painted on one side of the outside. I’m a really big fan of her music. There were also a lot of hip-hop things showing. My name was written in graffiti, and pictures of hip hop dancers. I am a hip-hop competitor. Basically hip-hop is one of my favorite things in this world. Yet it still hadn’t clicked in my head that it was my closet. Styliani, who was the girl that made the closet and was presenting it, said, “If you still don’t know whose closet this is...” She turned the box around to reveal a big picture of a puppy. The picture of the puppy had eyebrows drawn onto it. She did that because I wasn’t very blessed with the gift of nice eyebrows. When ever we go on a STAC trip, I always do my eyebrows. It’s kind of like my inside joke within STAC.
At this moment, it definitely had clicked. I automatically started crying. I was so happy. I felt so loved. I felt wanted. I was given a chance to really fit in. I have had a rough past. I have never really felt this way in school before. It finally felt like this puppy was no longer a stray. This puppy had found her family. I got up off of the table and excitedly got my closet. I also got a Champion hoodie that I love so much. We all started singing “Puppy is the champion,” to the tune of “We Are The Champions.” It gave us a nice laugh after a happy cry. Then, I sat on my Secret Santa’s lap and we got our picture taken. We got up, hugged each other, and I then presented my closet, so the next person could have as exciting of a moment as I did! This is a day I will never ever forget!
-- Jessie Alexander