My Facebook status yesterday was something about how I was not looking forward to the office Christmas luncheon. That inspired some comments/questions, and I e-mailed the whole saga to my friend Matt. Since I'm not finished with the project I absolutely, positively have to give to the other editor before I go on vacation for two weeks, I'm posting it here for your amusement. Settle in with some cocoa!
The first office Christmas "party" I went to (December 1996), I'd only been working here part-time for a few months. I'm not Catholic and didn't really know anything about nuns, and it was pretty much my first office gig so I didn't know anything about how office parties work.
Here's what a n00b I was: At party time, I was doing actual work and didn't realize that I should have sneaked into the conference room about ten minutes beforehand so I could get a decent seat . . . i.e., one far away from the nuns. Since I was the last one in, I got the place of honor: between the president/CEO nun, who is loopy to begin with, and the VP nun, who had a stroke about six to eight months earlier. Ack!
And let me set the scene of this party, too: It was just the nine of us, crammed into the conference room with some cheese, crackers, holiday cookies, and wine. A CD boombox playing holiday music was on the windowsill, and our Christmas bonuses were in the middle of the table: three calendars and a gift card to Kaufmann's (now known as Macy's).
You may be curious about the three calendars. That year and every year afterward, each of us received a company Christmas card, which is always a three-panel foldout with the calendar for the year ahead on panels 2 and 3. We also get a purse-sized monthly calendar (about 6 x 3) in a lovely leatherette cover with the company logo on it. And, to top it off, we get a spiral-bound journal-sized calendar that has an inspirational quote, Bible verse, or song lyric in calligraphy with an accompanying illustration on the verso while the recto contains one week's worth of days with room for notes. Mostly I set all three calendars (still in their wrapping paper!) somewhere in my apartment and ignore them until many years later when it is safe to throw everything away. (In fact, I excavated the 2006 calendar last week when I was rummaging around in my rubber stamping supplies.)
At the time, I didn't know any of that, though, so I just sat there, nibbling on some crackers and having a stilted conversation with the nuns while giving the rest of my department dirty looks as they giggled and chatted on the other end of the room. I wasn't really paying any attention to the music at all until the song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" came on.
All of a sudden, the head nun JUMPS UP and hustles over to the CD player so she can skip ahead to the next track. I turned around to watch her because I was surprised by this sudden burst of activity, and that's when she looks at me and says, "Well, Amy, Santa Claus is coming to town. What do you think about that?"
I pretty sure I just stared at her, because I had no idea of how to respond.
I'm not really sure what happened afterwards, but when I went home and recapped all of this for my mom, she said I should have countered with the fact that St. Nicholas is my family's patron saint — on my maternal grandfather's side, anyway — and what did she think about that? Sadly, as with all good comebacks, the idea came too late to be of any use.
Anyhow, this year's luncheon will be nun-free — they're all at the other office now — so all I have to deal with is the office manager. Sigh.
I managed to make it through this year's luncheon. (Gift update: No calendars, and a Visa check card. Woohoo!)
I was not aware that the new director (not a nun) was going to be there, nor could I have anticipated how much time we were going to spend listening to her tell us about a problem confronting her church: To wit, a wood statue of the Holy Family in which Mary's breast is rather prominent and a toddler-sized Jesus seems to be staring directly at it. She was telling us how the parish council members were very upset, but the priests didn't see anything wrong with it. We were cracking all kinds of jokes about the whole thing, because apparently they went back to the sculptor and and asked him to give Mary a facelift (I guess they thought she looked too old) and a breast reduction.
Now playing on iTunes: Solomon Burke - Presents for Christmas