The Christmas Office Party

Sunday, December 16, 2001
Suburbia, California


"The Ornaments of a Home Are the Friends Who Frequent It"
~ - Richard R. Peters, Atlanta, GA, 1885

These words are inscribed in our hearts, and we embellished our ornaments -- friends -- by welcoming Malou, Tippy, Doni, Cia, Lar & Jus, and Em individually with a garland lei, presented Hawaiian style with an Aloha greeting and a kiss. For island folks, mistletoe sprigs are superfluous.

Clockwise from the top: Cia, Malou, DH, Tip with Freddy, me with O, Em, Doni, Lar, Jus

Missing were Kori, who was sick with the flu, and Jen, who was nursing an injured husband.  Both were dearly missed. 

Everyone honored our Hawaiian custom of taking off their shoes. As you can see, everyone was dressed comfortably, like family.  No one came shoehorned into a slinky number. No one wore anything revealing or strange. No elaborate hairdos or fancy haircuts, although I did wear my hair down just for Malou.    

The element of surprise was the dishes that our guests brought.  Who taught them to be so Hawaiian?  In the islands, you never go to a party empty-handed, and you only bring a bag of chips -- or plain jello mold -- if you want to ensure never being invited back.

Our evening started out with a fresh shrimp appetizer, served with a tangy sauce; a basket of macadamia nuts, cashews and almonds; and Lar's and Jus' delicious home-made spinach dip and crackers.

There was beer and DH's excellent wine choices, as well as non-alcohol alternatives.  No vile egg nog. Everyone ate heartily, which is the best compliment given to any cook.

For our main courses, the roast turkey that DH had prepared with all the trimmings, including a tasty oyster stuffing, and the fail-proof honey-glazed spiral ham, served with Mom's marvelous cherry-raisin-pineapple sauce were delectably traditional and festive. 

Complementing DH's famous Hawaiian style potato-macaroni crab salad and fresh greens tossed with home-made Sam Choy's dressing, Cia brought a refreshing fruit salad; Lar and Jus, a flavorful Chinese chicken salad; Malou, a yummy pasta salad; and Em's fresh salad.  

Hawaiian sweet rolls were complemented by Cia's rolls. The island staple, white rice, was complemented with Tip's delicious pad thai noodle dish. 

The exciting part of our meal, however, was dessert. Tip made this rich pound cake -- with cherries on top -- to die for.  Doni brought two luscious pies -- pumpkin chiffon and raspberry -- piled with mounds of whipping cream.  Cia brought finger-sized French pastries.  And Jus brought moist banana bread that he had made himself.  All of this made for a perfect exclamation mark to a lovely meal.

The Newlyweds, Lar & Jus

I was in the company of people I actually like. No airheads, cynics, and co-dependents. I didn't feel anyone had plastered a perky smile, brimming with fake good cheer who couldn't wait to be outta there. 

Somehow, we all gathered around the dining room table, and giving an impromptu speech seemed the thing to do, and it came out of me naturally, straight from my heart:  

"I've been at this office for 18 years, and this was my happiest year. I enjoy working with you. Up to this year, I never felt the mix was right.  A lot of people can't handle honesty; better to say nothing. If I like you, I'll say a lot, and I won't soft-pedal, because that is not helping you. If I'm honest with you, I believe in you and I will help you in every way I know how. I've always had this vision of working like a family, 'ohana style is what we call it in Hawai`i.  You feel like family to me. I want to thank you for that."  

Then Cia, our office manager, took over, thanked us and on behalf of her and fellow co-workers, presented me with my favorite gift: a VERY generous Barnes & Nobles gift certificate.  Yes! Yes! Yes!  She then presented DH with a smartly wrapped bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, his favorite fruit of the vine, by Arrowwood winery..

This is a group who likes and respects one another, so I ventured the first playing of  "Your Last Day on Earth" game.  

"Pretend this is your last day on Earth, 
what would you like to tell the person to your left?"

What was said was personal and heartfelt, and will remain within our close group.  Suffice it to say, hearts spoke with eloquence, respect and great affection, as we went around the circle:  Em to Doni to DH to Malou to Cia to Lar to Jus to Tip to me to Em.

"And you believed in me..."

Then, I stuck myself further out on the limb and proposed the first playing of the Heart's Desire game.

"What is your heart's desire, personally and at work?"

Again, the honesty of this group shone through, and we bared our souls.  The first step toward realization of any goal -- heart's desire -- is first, to articulate it and then share it with those who spiritually support you. Only then do your heart's desires have a chance to be actualized.  

"A journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step.
~ Lao Tse

Tonight, we all took the courageous and energizing first two steps to our hearts' desires. 

We then moved over to the living room for a spirited white elephant gift exchange (I loved my purple photo frame, Tip!), as well as the gift exchange.

And then everybody helped to clean up (yet another Hawaiian custom).  An in true Hawaiian style, everyone took home plates laden with food.  The evening ended with us bonding over tea and coffee. 

On this night, everyone shimmered and sparkled from within, and our home has never been so beautifully ornamented.  


"Life is a Gift."

Author Unknown

P.S.  If you would like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to this journal entry, you may do it here.  

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
September Morn 2001