This blog should be dated September 28th, 2018, because that’s the day that the actual Christmas miracle took place. So let’s just ignore the fact that it’s October the 10th, and I’m only just writing it now, because it truly is amazing!
So here’s the deal: On September 27th I took Foxy our pup into the vets for dramatic, drastic surgery. She stayed overnight, a long, scary night filled with some dark fears round about 2 am (although a less interrupted night than most of the nights following her return home).
I kept myself busy on that second day before we could collect her, mostly by investigating our options for a work Christmas party. And in that simple action I realised one of my own personal dreams for our business from 2017.
Back then we were smaller than we are now, in every way. We employed C1, our first ever employee, and C2, D’s son, joined us in November, aged just 17.
We were small and skint, too small and skint for a work’s Christmas do, and besides, Little C was too young to attend and Big C did not enjoy social gatherings. We were still a few months away from hiring T, who has been a big part of our huge growth his year.
Plus, we were still in renovation hell, and everything was packed away, including most of my shoes. This is on top of all the belongings that have been packed away since we moved up here in 2015.
So apart from considering that D and I went for a night out, which we didn’t manage, all thoughts of doing something special failed and we prepared for another Christmas without a party, which didn’t exactly feel like a hardship.
And then, at a December BNI meeting, one of the trades invited us (D and I) to come along to his company’s do. We agreed, slightly reluctantly.
If I’m honest, it didn’t mean much. When you’ve been freelance for years Christmas doesn’t mean what it does if you’ve been employed. If you are working on a contract which sprawls Christmas you may or may not get a bit of time off, and you may or may not be invited to the works do. Over the years I often found myself working in London and so the Christmas party has mostly fallen on the day everyone finished for Christmas.
Several times I attended for about an hour then had ro fight my way through the London Christmas crowds to get to Kings Cross for one of the late night trains back up to Leeds. Now that’s one grim way to sober up, on a cold gloomy train surrounded by a dwindling number of fellow half-drunk travellers. Not to mention the fun of trying to get a taxi out of Leeds station when the entire city has just had its own Christmas party.
Some years I often felt invited to do’s out of politeness. Other years at other companies there wasn’t a Christmas do at all. And for many years, I worked for a company based in NYC, who posted photos of their amazing Christmas party all over Facebook but didn’t offer to pay for the flights for their international staff to go there. Which was fair enough, of course.
So, while some Christmases have been amazing over the years, several Christmases have often passed me by. In telly, if you’re not working in November you’re unlikely to be working in December. And so if you have a contract that finishes late in the year you may have had quite a few weeks out of work by Christmas, with no sign of any work for some weeks to come so the whole frivolity from everyone else who is breaking up for a two-week beer fest can be quite depressing.
Back in December 2017, as D and I took up our invitations, and stepped into the local golf club, festooned with tinsel and sparkly wall hangings, it was like stepping into a scene in a movie.
Occasionally, as we live our new lives in this small town, the ‘normality’ of life hits me. Working in telly I have never really been part of a community before, working away means you will never live the day to day that most of the population experience.
This was one of those times. The ‘normality’ of Christmas hit me like a punch from an inflatable Santa. The tacky decorations, the Christmas meal (my veggie version was lasagne, of course, which was hilarious in its complete lack of imagination) and then the music. Oh my goodness the music! The cheesy Christmas tunes, the crowds dancing. Halfway through the night I stepped out of myself and took just long enough to take in the scene, such a contrast from the cool telly parties I’d been to. Just a bunch of everyday people of all different ages whose lives focused around this small town, living and working and being, alongside each other.
And I realised then and there what a work Christmas do actually means. It is a reward, for the bosses and the staff, for a year hard worked. It is a thank you from the boss to the staff. It is a show off, letting other businesses know how many staff there are and how well everyone can party. And it is a ritual, as so many other things around Christmas are, a part of the fabric of life that weaves its way around us all as we live our lives in parallel with each other.
I pledged, then and there, that this year, we would have a work’s Christmas party night.
So booking our ‘do’ was not just a way of marking an amazing, breathtaking year in which we have achieved so much. It wasn’t just the thought of a fun night out with our colleagues. It wasn’t just a way of cementing us and our little business into the fabric of this historic town.
It was the glorious realisation of a mighty, thunderous dream. Booking our Christmas do is more than a step, it is a bridge between what was and what will be. Even if it’s not quite a miraculous event, it’s pretty much up there with them.
Later, we collected our sweet pup from the vets and discussed her recovery. It will be long and arduous and needs to be handled carefully. Twelve weeks before she can go off lead.
And then I realised, twelve weeks from September 28th is exactly Friday December 21st – the night of our party!
So if Fox’s 12-week recovery goes right, December 21st will be a big night for her as well as a huge event for us.
Those momentous events that then tie in magically with other momentous events can make for quite the emotional response! All hail the Christmas Miracle!