You couldn’t grow up at RMI with Garen Tennant for a father and Madeleine Tennant for a sister and not love Christmas. It was just impossible, between tacky sweaters and the gingerbread and the singing, to not have a good time.
But now that he was working in retail during the holiday season, Drew was beginning to understand Grinches. He still wasn’t one, but mandatorily listening to Christmas music for his entire shift at Deep River Records was starting to take the fun out of it. Drew was staying sane by finding increasingly obscure covers and carols to play (he’d uncovered a very trippy holiday album by the wizarding EDM band Terrifying Brain Straws that had a version of the “Coventry Carol” that was legit fire), but he wasn’t sure if that strategy could last him through to January. The worst was when it got stuck in his head at the store, so even when he left he could hear R. Owens and the Otiose Octet’s take on “Here We Come A-Wassailing” reverberating in his head.
Nevertheless, Drew was in the holiday spirit, so he’d signed up for the Secret Santa event. He knew it was supposed to be random, but he’d been silently counting on Aaron to make sure he didn’t get Darlene. Aaron had come through on that, so Drew had gone ahead with his initial plan of making a mix tape. He’d tried to use what he knew about his recipient to choose the songs for it—some people just gave off “I love country” vibes or whatever, and Drew had a knack for just knowing what kind of music someone would like—and he’d even asked a couple of their friends very subtly about before he started the playlist. He’d ended up with an hour’s worth of music, which was just the right amount.
The biggest problem was the tech to play it. Not everyone at RMI had a charmed CD player, and those definitely cost more than two Galleons—but Drew had gotten around that. Mr. Shinkle said Drew could have one of the broken old cassette players at the store, and a judicious Reparo had restored it to a functional form. Then Drew had just had to put the mix on a cassette tape. It was retro as heck, but it worked, so that was that.
Arriving at the festive Finer Diner decked out in his worst Christmas sweater (it was black with a bright green dragon wearing a Santa hat curled up and snoring smoke clouds in the shape of the words “Ho Ho Ho!”), Drew couldn’t find his recipient right away. No worries: there was plenty of time, and maybe everyone wasn’t here yet. He’d just made his way over to one of the food tables, seeking gingerbread, when someone carrying a present stopped him. “Wow, thanks,” Drew said, grinning easily as he accepted the gift. “Should I try to guess what it is?”