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Senators’ Secret Santa Swap Set for Dec. 8

What does Franken have in mind for this year's Secret Santa? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
What does Franken have in mind for this year's Secret Santa? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators have a week to buy their gifts for their annual Secret Santa gift swap.  

Sen. Al Franken’s annual effort to build holiday cheer is scheduled for Dec. 8.  

“In the Senate, we have serious jobs and often face some very sobering issues,” the Minnesota Democrat said in a statement to Roll Call. “But every year, I host a bipartisan event to embrace the spirit of the holiday season, my annual Secret Santa. This is something we used to do at my elementary school back in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. It helped make sure that every kid got a gift, and it was a way to mix things up and give kids the chance to get to know one another.”  

A filibuster-proof 61 senators participated in the 2014 edition of what’s become a Senate holiday tradition. Franken himself drew a map of the United States personalized for Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota for last year’s event, according to Franken’s office.  

Gifts have included a toy Harley-Davidson, wine and liquor and an assortment of other local products like Pez dispensers from Connecticut Democrat Christopher S. Murphy.  

Before the first Franken-led gift swap in 2011, Don Ritchie, now the Senate’s historian emeritus, told Senate Democrats of the long history of the tradition, of how the legendary Speaker and Sen. Henry Clay passing on gifts of fine Kentucky Bourbon. They were tall tales Ritchie had made up for the occasion.  

But the event has become popular enough it might last longer than a mere footnote in Senate history.  

“Ever since I started hosting this event, it’s done exactly what it was supposed to do: create comity and good cheer in an institution badly in need of both. The goal this year, for my fifth annual Secret Santa, is to build on that and bring even more senators together in the spirit of the holiday‎,” Franken said.

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