Tuesday, December 11, 2007

holiday parties

as a kid, i wound up at a few work-related holiday parties with my mother. if i was lucky, there was a kindred soul or two in the form of one of the other teachers' sons. occasionally though, i was left to fend for myself either with the "old ladies", who in reality weren't much older than my mother. as you well know, as a kid, everyone who's either taller than you or can drive is pretty much a senior citizen. now, not so much. rarely was there a male colleague at said parties, so i learned well how to make polite conversation with people that i really had nothing in common with besides knowing my mother.

fast forward a few years to now (ok, more than a few!), and i'm learning that holiday parties can be just as uncomfortable to the invited guests when they're work-related. i have no doubt that my mother was indeed friends with her colleagues, as they often went shopping and did things i thought all mothers did. elliot (dc101's morning host/dj) shared that many companies are doing away with the traditional holiday party because of either the expense or the feeling that it's a forced gathering with people you already spend a lot of time with, or don't necessarily want to see outside of work! in hearing some of my friends talk about their respective upcoming (or already past) parties, i get the sense that both are entirely accurate. yes, networking and such is key to advancing your career. in my field...not so much. collegiality is an important part of the climate of a school, now more than ever with the stringent requirements placed on education and the necessity for a team effort to get all of our charges to succeed. at the same time, it's still a little strange to sit around at a holiday party and drink a beer or a glass of wine with your administrators, all the while talking about work (which i don't particularly like to do outside of work!).

so, yesterday was our staff holiday party. off campus, of course, though we were "on the clock" for the majority of the time. i am fortunate here to have a few teachers that are closer in age to me and have a little more in common. at least last year, though i lacked many things in common, i could always count on talking football with my old...er, former colleagues. feigned familiarity during this time of year still feels weird. i'm still out of my element at work. perhaps it will come, perhaps we all still need to relax a little bit with one another. i'm hoping it does. at the very least i'd like to have discussions at lunch or elsewhere that don't center on work. i guess since i spend so much time here, i'd like to feel a bit more like...myself?

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