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One of the interesting things about working so many jobs is seeing how differently various organizations celebrate Christmas.  For example, this year I am going to at least four and possibly up to six work-related Christmas celebrations.  There’s the Christmas Luncheon for Job 1 (which I am incidentally in charge of planning), the Christmas Luncheon for Job 2, and the Christmas Dinner for Job 3, plus two whole organization office parties, and one party for everyone who works in HR across the network of medical care facilities that Job 3 is part of.

So far I’ve done one of the whole organization parties.  That involved some very nice hors d’oeuvres, free gift-wrapping (which was awesome), a visit from Santa (I got coerced into getting my picture taken sitting on his lap), much admiration of various co-worker’s babies, and an attempt to sing Frosty The Snowman led by the hospital president that got rather derailed when nobody could remember the melody for the bridge.  All in all, it was a bit of an odd experience for me, mostly because of the Santa part.  I’ve never been a believer in Santa Claus (my parents taught me from a young age that there was no such person).  As I’ve gotten older I’ve developed a distaste for the way our culture uses Santa to celebrate Christmas  without referencing Christ.  A sterling example of this is one of my paradoxically favorite Christmas movies, Miracle on 34th Street, which uses Santa to discuss issues of faith and belief surrounding Christmas without ever actually using the words Christ, Jesus, or even God.  My discomfort means that I tend to stay well clear of all things Santa.  So when my new department head asked me if I wanted to get my picture taken with Santa, without thinking I answered honestly, “Not particularly.”  Of course, this could not be acceptable, and so before I knew it, I was reluctantly taking my place, first at the side of Santa’s chair, and then gently but firmly guided onto Santa’s knee.  Sigh.  At least it’s not as bad as the time my old roommate sicked her five year old daughter on me.  But still.

Today’s event was the Christmas Luncheon & Gift Exchange for Job 2.  We went out to lunch at The Pavilion Grille (the extra “e” makes it extra classy).  I wasn’t sure how this was going to work.  Most of the other workers in the department have worked together for a long time, so they have a tendency to just announce things without actually explaining what’s going on.  For example, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be paying for my own lunch or not.  It turned out that everyone was paying their own way, which interestingly meant that some felt free to order alcohol with their meal.  During lunch I got to make the formal announcement to the whole department that I will be leaving them before long, which, you know, contributed to the general Christmas cheer.  After we got back to the office, we exchanged gifts (we had picked names out of a hat a couple of weeks ago), and the head of the department gave us each a DLM gift card.

This is actually the second corporate present I’ve gotten this year.  Job 3 also gives out holiday bonus checks, although they’re prepared by payroll and have to have taxes taken out of them like regular income, so they don’t seem super present like by the time you get them.  But I appreciate that they actually give presents.  At the bottom of the invitation to the other organization’s Christmas party, there’s a notice that the money that would have gone to our Christmas presents was instead donated to two unnamed charities.  Personally, this makes me feel a bit gypped.  Not only do they not want to bother with actually giving us anything, but they won’t even tell us where the money actually went.

Anyway, the next party that’s coming up is the Christmas dinner for Job 3.  Funnily enough, this is going to be at the exact same restaurant as the one we chose for Job 1’s Christmas Luncheon, only two days earlier.  So I’ll get to have Brio twice this year.  I’m not sure whether I’m paying for my own dinner at that one either, but I think that’s ok.  It will be by far the smallest work related celebration I’ll have this season, and I’m looking forward to it.  The very next day is the all-network HR party (Mariah tells me that there will be dinner, a small gift exchange, and a cookie competition), and the day after that is the Christmas Luncheon for Job 1.  The only presents will be (probably) the division presents to the support staff, there will be no Santa, no baked goods that are not on the Brio menu, and our lunch will be paid for.  There will definitely be alcohol.  Boss J has already warned me that I should make no plans to handle heavy machinery after the party.  So I think I’m looking forward to this one the most.  And then we will be done.  Thank God.

The all-organization party for Jobs 1&2 is actually this Thursday, but I’m presenting at CL, so I know I won’t be there.  I think this year they’re reprising the popular Casino Night theme, and as mentioned before, giving our presents away to unnamed charities.

In other job-related news, this afternoon while I was at Job 2, the woman who does PR for the organization came into my cubicle.  She said, “So I heard that you’re now not part time, but part time with benefits – is that right?”  I confirmed that it was.  She asked me if I knew what that meant.  I said, “It means I get to go see doctors?”  She kinda laughed and said, no, actually it meant that she wanted to take my picture for the New Employees Profile section of the newsletter.  That was when I had to break the news to her that while I may have recently changed my job status here, I’m soon going to change it again to no longer working for this organization, so profiling me in their newsletter may be a little, well, awkward.  It was a little sad telling her this.  She’s one of my favorite people in the organization, partly because of her tattoos and motorcycle, but mostly because she is both utterly sweet and completely no-nonsense.  It’s a wonderful combination, and I’m sad to be saying good-bye to her.  I’m still excited about my new job, but I’m starting to realize how many people I will genuinely miss.