Those Awkward Company Christmas Parties

Don’t you just love those company Christmas parties?  You know the ones….those you feel you “have” to attend because the boss will notice your absence if you don’t make an appearance.  I always dread going to the Commander’s company party each year because 1.  I don’t know anyone who attends and 2.  HE doesn’t know many who attend.  You see, he doesn’t work at the company’s main office.  He’s attached to a project at the local Navy base so he rarely makes it over to the home office.  Consequently, he knows very few of the people who work there.  It doesn’t make for a lot of “instant camaraderie” at these types of events.

I’d scrounged around the house and found the requisite white elephant gift for the dreaded goofy gift exchange.  There’s an old weed whacker that’s been making the rounds at the party for years now.  At least I know what shape package to avoid for that little gem.  So we headed off in the rain and made our grand entrance with the hope that for once, we might find some welcoming faces.  Nope!  The tone was set when we forlornly stood in the room entrance trying to figure out where to sit.  I saw a table with only one seat seemingly taken so I headed over there, since no one at any of the other tables was beckoning us over.  I sat down while the Commander went off to get us some soft drinks.  Soon a young thing came over and looked at me aghast.  “Oh, no,” she said.

I wondered if I’d managed to spill something on myself before I had even come close to a speck of food. “Is there something wrong,” I asked.

“Well, this is terribly rude, I know, ” she said, “but I have people coming to fill up this entire table. I GUESS I can find somewhere else.” (Then she just stood there and stared at me.)

“I’m so sorry,” I apologized.  I didn’t see any seats reserved except for the one seat with a coat on it.  Since there are only two of us, why don’t we find other seats.  It will be easier for two than for six.”

Off I went in search of another place to sit.  There weren’t many open spots.  I went to another table where a young lady sat.  “Are any of these spots free?” I asked.  She told me there were just two spots open so I claimed them.

For the rest of the evening, we made awkward conversation with the two young twenty-something couples at our table.  Occasionally we’d find common ground, sometimes with unexpected twists.  For example, the two couples were bemoaning how they hated to travel home to visit their parents even though they didn’t live that far away because when they did go home, their folks always had stuff for them to do, like having them lift or move things for them or having them do other physical things that the parents were now having trouble doing on their own.

I looked at them and said, “Of course, you realize that we’re coming from your folks’ perspective and we do the same thing.  When our kids come home, we have stuff for them to do that we simply can’t do anymore, too.  But look on the bright side, you’ll get to that point someday, too.  Heck, if your folks live long enough, you’ll find yourself hit from both sides.  My mom is 99 and I’m STILL doing stuff for her.”

At another point, I heard one of the girls say to the other, “I don’t care where my next job is, I just don’t want to have to be in an environment where I have to try to make conversation with seventy-year old ladies.”   At that point she flinched.  I figure her friend kicked her under the table.    Now I’m not seventy but I guess I’m close enough in their book that it was not a very diplomatic thing to say in my presence.

Shortly thereafter I overheard them talking about dogs.  I perked up and jumped into the conversation.  Turned out they had a rescue dog and their dog had originally come from West Virginia.  So had mine!  We discovered other points in common.  I asked them what the name of the rescue group was that they had used and it turned out to be the same rescue group that I had adopted Toto from.  Soon we were passing our iPhones around and showing off pictures of our dogs.

Now isn’t that funny?  Rescue dogs came to the rescue and for a few moments, we were all just fellow dog-lovers that were totally in-synch.  Too bad we couldn’t have been rescued from that darn white-elephant gift exchange.  I’m looking on the bright side. though.  It’s another year before the next company Christmas party.

 

  • Oh I hate parties like you have described! I am socially awkward in large groups and things like that are painful. I can dread them for weeks in advance. Good for you for finding common ground with the dog rescue!

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