We’re heading towards that most hideous time of the year. The annual christmas party. Sorry, holiday party. My bad. I must now self-flagellate with a piece of a-luminum siding.
It’s been a few years since my last holiday rant and specifically the evils of the white elephant/secret santa/dirty santa and every other version of this hideous ill-mannered game where it’s ok to steal each other’s gifts.
Fortunately for me, the annual get-together for my gym’s women’s program where this despicable ritual is always played out is scheduled for when I’m England where the only thievery I have to watch out for is the Romanians on Oxford Street. This year though Erik and I aren’t pilgrimming it in December and the annual party has moved to December 30th. But I very much doubt that the afterbirth of Geezus will change the impulse of this group of women to smackdown, cheat and steal.
Yet I would still be more comfortable going to this than to my company ‘do’. My gym group and coach has seen me through various sobbing fits, panic attacks and a few moments of complete bad-arsery. But amongst my work people I’ve yet to even utter my standard ‘useless twat’ phrase.
Forced socialization with work people brings up a lot of social anxieties for me. And now there’s two events that I’m expected to attend. There’s the official company lunch that’s held in a steak restaurant. Everyone’s done this one. You sit at a long table and hope against hope that you won’t get stuck next to the office bore who only drinks iced tea and drones on about their child/grandchild who apparently ranks second only in ascendancy to Geezus. About whom they also bang about, ad nauseum.
One tantalising seat away from you is the person that you really wanted to be next to and so you try to hold a conversation with them by bobbing back and forth as the person between you keeps shifting in an attempt to block you. Ordering takes forever as the server has to deal with the special requests of a table of 30, including 30 renditions of the choice of 8 salad dressings, none of which seem to appeal. Just choose the bloody vinaigrette you picky twat.
The second event is actually at the home of the head of the department. Really? We couldn’t find a more awkward uncomfortable setting for this? Oh what a lovely house I’ll say as I take my shoes off after wiping mud on the hall rug and double-dip the celery crudite into the dipping sauces set out on the expansive kitchen island and hopefully cover up the fact that I don’t know half the people’s names even though I’ve worked there for 8 months. Cue inane chit-chat. ‘Finished all your shopping?’ blah blah. Traveling for the holidays? who cares.
I’ve already been told that it’s a tradition for this work group to play the white elephant game. Which means there will be at least one gift that reappears every year having been hilariously passed back and forth between the staff like a dose of festive chlamydia. So there’s that to look forward to.
I hate public gift-giving. Especially to strangers. But common decency means I can’t bring myself to wrap up that nasty bottle of chocolate wine that I hate so that someone else can experience the misery of it. So I’ll bring something nice that will actually be wanted (and stolen) and still take home the same nasty bottle of chocolate wine that I came with. You’re either a jerk or a people-pleasing fuckwit in this game.
I’ve just looked up the origins of this pointless so-called entertainment and found that the originator was the King of Siam. A total passive-aggressive jerk he gave an albino elephant to any courtier who pissed him off in the hope that the upkeep costs would ruin them. He could have just sacked them and been done with it. Stupid bald-headed git. What kind of christian name is ‘Yul’ anyway?
In a meeting a few weeks ago the ‘party-like-your-boss-is-watching’ holiday party was discussed, as was my general disgust with the albino elephant game. Yesterday I got an email from the department head’s assistant:
“Maggie, I was told that you suggested a more fun and exciting gift exchange than our “White Elephant” norm. Is this true? And are there rules or conditions I should include with the invite and will you be attending and will explain how to play at the party?
No, on all counts.
I don’t do party games or ice-breakers. That’s what alcohol is for. As a child even a simple game of musical chairs was a huge stress to me. Being brought up to always allow others to go before you rarely makes you a winner when you’re competing for the last chair when the music stops. I can’t bear any behaviour lacking in manners or common decency. I can’t even sit on a bus in England without fearing that I’ve inadvertently taken a seat reserved for old people or disabled women with pushchairs or disaffected youth.
My feeling is that if the party needs some sort of parlour game to keep everyone from having to talk to each for too long then maybe the party isn’t the best idea.
The only model I can suggest is based on the British Christmas parties of the 1980s which involved drinking too much, eating a whole bowl of Twiglets and telling the boss that he’s a tosser, before then crying and throwing up bits of marmite-flavoured twig into the great white elephant.
Roll on 2017.