Monday, December 12, 2011

The fullness of time

This past Friday was my work Christmas party – I should say “was one of several” but really it was the only one that mattered. Tomorrow there is a party-esque luncheon here in the office space for everyone who works on my floor, thus encompassing several different agencies and directorates (including the bomb-collectors on the other side of the building, so that should be fun) and the larger segment of the Army to which my agency belongs also has a holiday party at the Pentagon itself which I would be entitled to attend, but I don’t plan to (and don’t even know the date on which it takes place). But Friday was the party just for my agency, attended by the people I consider my day-to-day co-workers.

And it was fairly uneventful. There was a cash bar (I did not partake, mainly because I had no cash on me than for any other professional consideration) but no one got memorably stupid, and the food was fine, and the innocuous games passed the time all right. I won a door prize again; last year it was a gift basket of snacks and beer, but this year it was a pedicure kit which the party organizers hoped my wife would like. (I’ve worked in lots of female-dominated offices in my day but my current gig is really pretty 50/50 so I was a little surprised by non-gender-neutral door prizes … but, eh.) There was also old-fashioned numbered cards bingo with black and white M&M’s to be used as markers and later eaten (though they tasted a bit off, probably due to being black and white, clearly custom ordered but why would you go with those two colors … to match the ink-on-paper look of the bingo sheets?) and of course the dreaded gag gift yankee swap, which I always decline to participate in. There was an early attempt at implementing some interesting rules such as “only allowed to steal once” but it was a little unclear if a gift could only be stolen once or if a person could only steal once and any other time they were empty handed on their turn would be required to go to the pile of wrapped presents, and then whatever the rule may have been it was not enforced with any kind of consistency as an animatronic bell-ringing Snoopy doll pretty much incited total anarchy. At least half of the other presents, it seemed, were scented/decorative candles, which I will grant are fairly utilitarian and inoffensive but exceptionally boringly so, which to me means they are the worst possible submission to the “game” being played. It’s one thing to convey the timeless message “I don’t know you very well but it is Christmas! Have a candle!” and another thing altogether to put the dullest thing imaginable in a gift swap pool, willfully ignoring the fact that no one is ever going to steal a candle and each one represents a wax dead end for the premise.

gluhg gluhg gluhg
So the gift swap was plagued by rampant inequities but there was a nice moment after it was over when I saw two people trading the gifts they had each ended up with. One had a bottle of regular wine and one had a bottle of gluhwein, and the person with the regular wine wanted the gluhwein, and the person with the gluhwein had no idea what it was, so they exchanged bottles and all was well. And after that I hustled away early because the director told us all to go straight home after the party and I am certainly never going to be accused of disobeying direct orders in that vein.

Now it is Monday and (tomorrow’s in situ luncheon notwithstanding) I am looking at a full, uninterrupted five-day workweek. Which seems a bit odd according to all of my internal timekeeping senses; usually by the time holiday parties and early dismissals come along the actual holiday in question must be right around the corner, but no, Christmas is two weeks away and those two weeks are a couple of rows of basically blank squares on my office calendar. That’s the official business as usual schedule, at any rate – it’s entirely possible I might be forced to take a personal day at some point this week for the ever popular “supervise workmen in my house” reasons but I will get into the backstory on those developments at a later time. (Probably tomorrow, unless tomorrow ends up being the day!)

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