I'm on vacation. Christmas break doesn't officially start until Monday. We still have kids taking finals tomorrow. I took the day off, mainly to pack for a visit to my sister's. I won't be going back to work until Jan. 8.
I know I've said this a few times, but the difference between where I work now and where I used to work is striking. It's particularly noticeable at this time of year.
People decorate, for one thing. The Approval Plan/Gifts Team decorated their work space right after Thanksgiving by hanging Christmas ball ornaments from the ceiling tiles with ribbon. It slowly branched out from there. Little trees went up, garland got strung on cubicle walls, candy canes started to appear. People started handing out Christmas cards.
Then last week I came to work and found a gift basket on my desk from my team's librarian/faculty member. When the team went out to lunch later on that week, Deena handed gifts round the table to everyone. That's when I decided to go shopping for my co-workers. I'd been thinking about it before, but we hadn't exchanged gifts in the other department so I thought I'd hang back and see what other people did. I already knew what I was going to give people, it was just a matter of deciding to do it.
I bought everyone mercury-glass ornaments made by a company called Old World Christmas. They do beautiful work. Same day I brought them in, Lana gave out presents, and Bess just played Santa today. Yesterday the entire cataloging department (including staff, librarians, faculty, retired folks who still keep in touch, faculty on sabbatical, and our assistant dean) all trooped over to the fancy-schmancy on-campus hotel and restaurant for lunch. I sat with some people I don't know very well and also with my fellow refugee from the other department, and we had a great time.
It's hard not to make comparisons between this department and the other. We used to decorate, but then one year we kept talking about it without doing anything. Year after that, no one even mentioned it. Ever after, there were a couple of poinsettias at the reference desk, and that was it.
Then there's the whole getting together thing. Back in the day (I love the way that phrase sounds, but I don't really understand it. Which day? When?), our department used to get together for a holiday party at someone's home. Bella had a big house and she loved playing hostess, so we usually went there. After she and her hubby retired and moved south, we'd go to the department head's house. Then it became Lunch Out Somewhere. Then it turned into Potluck Lunch in the Office. Then it was Bagels by the Coffeepot at our ten a.m. break, then Impromptu Cookies Deposited by the Coffeepot (they were announced by email, and we were told, "Help yourself."), and last year I think it was just food passed round during a staff meeting. Bit of a blur, the past year. Bright spot around May 1, but I don't remember much before it.