I don’t know what it is like in other parts of the world but here in the sunny south of the UK it would appear that Christmas is on its way, whether we want it or not.
Christmas used to be a season of peace and goodwill to all mankind, but it would seem that the message has been lost in the telling.
What it means at the moment is queues of impatient and rude people in shops, impatient and rude people at work, stress at getting everything done before Christmas and “The Year End” finishing everything off so that you start all over again after that artificial boundary that we all expect to make all the difference when the old calendar comes off the office wall and is replaced by the new one.
How a mere two day break from work can make so much hard work for everyone is a mystery to me, after all, we have a two day break every week. The shops are full of people buying enough food and booze to feed a hundred people for a month.
People spend hours slaving in the kitchen preparing the food, offices are full of people getting things done “in time for Christmas” whilst being “Cheerful and festive”.
In truth, a lot of companies close down on Christmas Eve and re-open on the day after New Years Day, giving the employees a well-earned break. This is preceded in many companies by a party laid on by the company where there is usually a speech from the Big Boss, thanking everyone for all the hard work done during the year, an optimistic message about the up-coming year and, traditionally, some embarrassing scenes involving alcohol, photo-copiers and bare butts.
It cannot be considered a truly complete celebration unless at least one member of the team is found crying her eyes out in the stationery store.
As a field worker, working from home, I am spared these indignities. The company I work for does not celebrate Christmas, the cost of bringing all my colleagues together in one place makes the idea unworkable.
I get to see other people’s festivities and the way that companies celebrate the holiday is, to me, a useful way of gauging how much these companies value their staff.
A few years ago I was working in a support centre on Christmas Eve. At lunchtime I noticed that all the managers and supervisors had disappeared. I thought they might be planning a treat for us and waited in keen anticipation.
Eventually one of them rang up.
Eagerly I took the call:
“Hi Jeff, this is XXXX here, we’re all down the pub. Can you make sure that the last person out tonight turns the lights out?”
Needless to say the team felt a bit betrayed. No bonus, no speech, no gift, not even a card. We weren’t expecting it but it would have been nice if one of them had come by and wished us all a Merry Christmas.
That was one of the reasons I left that company. A few words, even a round robin email would have marked the event.
To them, and all like them, I have only one thing to say: