This Christmas, I would have loved to have had a fancy party to go to. I wanted to get dressed up and drink a glass of bubbly on the company dime. I had hoped Shaun's work might do something nice, but they didn't have a party that spouses were invited to.
I did have a Christmas party of my very own to attend, though; a very exclusive party comprised of me, Becky, Amy (our cashier) and Mr. Bob, the custodian. This year, as last, we drew names for a gift exchange, and I went in to work early so we could celebrate during break time (everyone but me arrives before breakfast.)
Bob had recently mastered a new pan pizza dough recipe (he's full of surprises), so he brought in his stand mixer and baking supplies and made a beautiful dough. Amy brought in a jar of homemade sauce, and we all brought in our own toppings. Our pizzas looked amazing and tasted even better.
Last year I was a little nervous about participating in a gift exchange with a man who wears a t-shirt with a howling wolf and an American flag on it without a trace of irony. I needn't have worried, though. Bob did end up drawing my name, and he gave me a lovely amaryllis in a tasteful clear glass container. He asked me about a hundred times if I really liked it, which I really did. It bloomed three times.
I drew Becky's name this year, and I bought her a giant vintage Santa light after she told me she was into old Santas. It was a risky move, but it worked out. (Who am I kidding? I think we all know I would have been delighted to keep this and find her something else if she didn't like it.)
Bob set up a nicer table than our usual, and we ate pizza and chocolate chip meringues in the custodial room, which adjoins the kitchen. We didn't party in a swank hotel or an empty stadium like the some of my friends did, but I can't help but think that sharing a meal next to a washer and dryer and a mop bucket might be a more fitting way to mark the birth of a baby whose bed was an animals' feeding trough.
Once our (short) party was over, it was back to work. In the most inspired moment of the day, Becky stood Santa next to the milk cooler so he would be the first thing the kids saw as they came through the lunch line. I could not believe the excitement. He was bigger than all of the first-graders, and most of the second-graders, so that was quite a thrill. They cried "Santa!" and greeted him like an old friend.
The older kids tended to pat him on the head or poke his nose, which sent him rocking back on his heels. I thought he was going to topple over entirely at several points, but Becky didn't bat an eyelash. It was obviously better to brighten the kids' day than to worry about the Santa being damaged.
It may be slow going because I am set in my ways, but working with Becky is eventually going to make me lighten up. Even if it kills me.