It only takes a few hours a week in an office for me to be reminded of the vibe of Christmas at work. During the first week of December the real enthusiast brings in a box of Quality Street or a few mince pies. Once the tinsel is put around the computer screen it is open season. Tins of biscuits start to appear either in the communal kitchen or on the edge of desks. There are boxes of Celebrations and Heroes all over the place and mince pies seem to be breeding in the staff kitchen. Colleagues encourage you to take one – ‘it’s Christmas!’ and then hope to engage you in a conversation about ‘how they shouldn’t’. But they do anyway and then, instead of being able to enjoy the festive food, they spend the rest of the day Googling the best diets for a January cleanse.
Once the biscuit tins are empty it is the turn of the bakers. The sort of people who like to whip up a batch of chocolate brownies before breakfast and find nothing more satisfying than drizzling a lemon cake. Because it is Christmas. They like to bake so much but it is no longer appreciated by their families. Instead, throughout December, the bakers get their positive strokes by presenting their creations at the weekly team meetings. Half the allotted time is taken up with passing around the Tupperware and everyone saying ‘just a small piece for me!’. A knife has to be found and time taken to ensure precision cutting of the cake.
Finally the corporate catering team get in on the act and instead of the boring tea and biscuits at meetings they get giddy and present teeny tiny mince pies. Those small ones that are mostly pastry and manage to make a mess over everything – papers, keyboards, touch-screens. It hardly helps foster a professional image – having pastry crumbs on your iPad.
It doesn’t get much better after Christmas. The office is seen as an opportunity to offload all the spare chocolates and biscuits. These colleagues seem to think that no-one else bothered with Christmas and so need leftover Quality Street and stollen from Aldi to cheer them up.
This office feast of biscuits, chocolates, mince pies, cakes starts early December and lasts until mid-January. It is in my top ten list of things I don’t miss about going to work. I hate that it provides an excuse for everyone (well, mainly the women) to talk about diets, dieting, being good and naughty around food and how they really don’t like rich fruit cakes and find marzipan disgusting. The conversations get boring and predictable, the food is never enjoyed (we’re in an office, at work!) and we know we have to do it all over again next year.
No wonder I took early retirement.