Diary of a busy practitioner, juggling work and family somewhere in England
We have almost reached the end of 2020. Unlike the end of other years, there will be no Christmas party. And I, for one, am glad.
We all come at Christmas parties from different angles. Having been with my husband for longer than I have been in full time employment, I have never experienced a Christmas party as a singleton. In other words, I have worn very strong pants every year but Hugh Grant has never tried to take them off me.
I have single colleagues, though, who won’t even come if other people’s partners are invited. Presumably because of all the canoodling that middle-aged married couples do when they are out. And I have married colleagues who won’t come if their spouses aren’t invited. I think it is because you can’t please everyone that we always end up with a bland 'party night' in some large soulless venue.
I am about to tell you now, employers, that you can please everyone. I’m going to tell you what everyone loves: a £50 M&S voucher. You can get a hot meal with that, to eat with people you like, not a cold one served thirty minutes after your friends who have no doubt been put on a different table to you.
I have had some shockers over the years. In my first year as a trainee, I spilled a bottle of wine over my boss. Yes, a bottle. And yes, I was a bit… exuberant… at the time.
Another year, my friend Megan and I wanted our boss to come clubbing after the party. We knew we had to get her nice and… exuberant… before asking her, and in over-the-top staged whispers I asked the colleagues sitting either side of her to keep topping up her drink. The boss in question thought I was talking about her behind her back. She actually left early and upset as a result. I went over the incident a hundred times that night, mortified, and another hundred times since, and I am sure she must have been going through something else that night. But it was one of the worst nights of my life. Granted, I have lived a sheltered life but it was still awful.
Even worse was the year I accidentally bought children’s tights and, stretched to capacity, they kept tearing and, because my dress was too short to have bare legs, I kept trying to discreetly colour in my skin with the waitress’ black biro.
Then there was the year when we had gone for Christmas drinks straight from work and, unexpectedly, the kitchen at the pub was closed (read: empty stomach). My future husband picked me up and actually sold his Ford Focus afterwards because he couldn’t get all of my vomit out of the speakers and air vents.
And that’s not to mention most of the other years when I have either been stone-cold sober, sick and weak with the wonder of new life feeding off me from the inside, or post-natal, sweaty and leaking milk. Why do we put ourselves through it?
Actually, now that I think about it, there was one year recently where a magician did a good trick at our table. So that is ten good seconds in about sixty hours of my wasted, awkward time (excluding travel).
I remember getting ready last year thinking 'you will enjoy it when you get there, you will enjoy it when you get there' and do you know what? It was OK.
But do you know what is better than enjoying it when you get there? Staying at home and enjoying that. Not worrying throughout December about fitting into your party outfit. Not buying a dress that leaves a trail of glitter in your wake. Drinking red wine on the sofa and not paying £100 for a taxi to get you to bed. No hang-xiety over what you might have said to your boss, or what you spilled over them. Just having turkey once, on Christmas Day. The West Wing streaming on All 4.
And not having to colour in your legs.
*Some facts and identities have been altered in the above article