Like jumping from a hot tub into a cold pool, or going from paddling around the Keys to wandering around a crowded IKEA, we have found it often takes juxtapositions to really make it crystal clear what we value and prefer in life. This weekend past provided just such a juxtaposition.
Friday night was a corporate Christmas party for Mr PoP’s work. These are the kinds of parties we are expected to love. Free booze, fancy cheeses and other catered food, lots of loud music and dancing. As (still relatively!) young, child-free professionals, it’s expected that these kinds of events will be right up our alley and have us getting down to “this sick beat” (Trademark – Taylor Swift) on the dance floor. However, as introverts, these kinds of events aren’t really where we renew our energy sources… Luckily, over the years we’ve figured out how to make the best of them and have fun (Pro Tip – no heels and not bothering with makeup goes a long way!) since we know that some folks expect us to be there having the time of our lives.
Truth be told, I was even kindof looking forward to going. Mr PoP looked adorable in his suit, and I put on a lovely little silk cocktail dress. We spend so much time these days seeing one another in gym clothes and paint and grout splattered jeans and T-shirts that it felt nice to dress up a bit! The food and drinks were great, and the company was even better – it was nice to catch up with some of Mr PoP’s coworkers that I’ve met over the years but that we haven’t had over this year with the house in the midst of our giant remodel. So when we had our fill and left, we were both pretty happy with how the evening had gone. Our attendance had been noted (by those who take these kinds of notes), and I daresay we managed to enjoy ourselves and get out before the music got to loud and other attendees got too drunk. A success on multiple fronts!
It was the next night when the contrast to corporate Christmas hit home.
Saturday night was the night of our town’s Holiday Boat Parade*, where boat owners deck their boats out with Christmas lights and play Christmas music while parading in a line up the river (after sundown so the lights look most spectacular) through town while Christmas parties are hosted all along the parade route, from fancy parties in backyards of multi-million dollar homes to impromptu gatherings of strangers at public viewing spots along the parade route. This year, we were invited to view the boat parade up close, from kayaks launched from the backyard of a friend who lives about a mile from our house.
So while Friday night had us dressing up, Saturday night had us dressing down. We borrowed a kayak (and the appropriate safety gear!) and launched with a few other folks from our friend’s backyard. We paddled around a bit, watched the parade from the river, and paddled around the river some more visiting with party goers on land and at sea (and being treated to food and beverage by said land and sea party goers) before heading back. Then we closed out the night with a small potluck of good food, BYO-drinks, and hanging out around a campfire chatting. It was a minimal cost to everyone involved, including our wonderful host and friend who arranged it. Mr PoP and I found it somuch more enjoyable than the extravagant holiday party we had attended the night before.
The Contrast Made It Clear
It’s not that there was anything wrong with corporate Christmas. In all honesty, Mr PoP’s work does a nice job throwing a great holiday party for employees and it’s lovely that they include partners. It’s a great time for me to put faces with names that I’ve heard throughout the year. That said, I’m pretty sure I speak for both of us when I say we wouldn’t complain if we were never expected to attend another corporate Christmas.
On the other hand, we’d love to see Hippie Christmas become a tradition. Hanging out on the water with old friends and making new friends was, for us, the perfect expression of what the holiday spirit is. It’s not about dressing up or multi-course meals on fancy dinnerware or an open bar (though Hippie Christmas did have its fair share of booze, too!). It’s about spending time and connecting – without our electronic devices. As our kitchen starts to look more and more… well, like a kitchen, it’s evenings more akin to Hippie Christmas than corporate Christmas that we are looking forward to hosting.
We’ve both got 2 more Christmas parties to attend this week. Here’s hoping that they end up more like Hippie Christmas than Corporate Christmas!
* I don’t know if this holiday tradition is uniquely Floridian, but it seems like pretty much every town down here has a holiday boat parade.