Monday, December 24, 2012
'Tis the Season
For most office environments, the generic and all-encompassing holiday season means passing around a collection to get the big bosses in charge something they do not care for, want, or need, like a personalized coffee mug or a cheap, not silk tie, and, likely, colleagues are obligated to seek and purchase a humorous or somehow thoughtful, but still cheap, present for a forced gift exchange. Cynical though my tone is, these paltry traditional pastimes of contrived cheer can be quite fun, and often are wonderful distraction from a critical task at hand, like completing a client deliverable on time and per expectations.
In my office, our general office manager and human resources guru is a saint; she works tirelessly to support us, sometimes very thanklessly, and is a completely selfless, giving woman. She pats our shoulders as we moan and groan about internal squabbles, about incompetent and frustrating clients, she doles advice on what is the best garage in the surrounding area to take your pathetic car, she maintains an endless supply of chocolate for us all, and she ensures our kitchen is stocked with a few essentials and is tidy, chores that are not part of her job description. She can talk sweetly and genuinely to anyone and anything; I love listening to her share stories, share her bounty of seemingly infinite practical wisdom, gleaned from experience.
Naturally, my colleagues and I collected to present her with a small token of our appreciation, but I wanted to get her a something extra, something unnecessary and superficial and maybe a little bit glittery, just for her. A single mom of two great, but surely occasionally infuriating, adolescents, spending excess time or money on herself is simply not on her radar. She adores long, bold necklaces, so when I came upon this silver beaded chain with a jingling tassel, I snatched it up feverishly. No matter who the recipient, or how well I know them, I am generally fairly self-conscious about presents that are not either a specific request, or a consumable item, like wine, chocolates, gift certificates to favorite unique restaurants. With this necklace, I vacillated between my excitement and my certainty that it would be the perfect match for Judy, and a sort of looming nervous energy that she would be appreciative, but not actually enjoy the gift.
Before leaving for the holiday to head to visit my family, I gave the present, simply wrapped in a silver bag. She beamed, and I beamed back. This season, I have been very guilty, of over indulgence in my own petty worries, of failing to recognize, or remember, what is truly important, in the month of December, and always: generosity, kindness, truth, integrity. Ignoring the almost incessant white noise of societal expectation, of professional concerns, to just relish in simple, beautiful joys. Giving this very small token to someone I care for, and who I respect deeply, seeing her smile with her lips and with her eyes, rekindled a fire within, one that must burn brightly and vibrantly to truly live and love.