Office Christmas Special

Word that won’t come unstuck from my mind: convoluted

I’ve been editing for a few hours now yet I still feel unproductive. Maybe it’s the thought that I’d be in the workplace on Christmas Eve morning to do overtime work. But I gave my word already so there’s no use grousing anymore.

The season’s spirit finally caught hold of me and isn’t letting go until all the holiday cheer has winded down. I feel jiggly and iffy when I see tinsels and glitters sparkle. I caught myself sporting a grin while I walked downtown the other day because the stores were playing Christmas jingles.

At home and when in the company of friends, I raved about the office party held last Sunday, attended by more than seven hundred employees. Before the party, I had tentatively decided that I didn’t want to go for want of something to wear — the party organizers have decided on a themed celebration and incongruously chose the festivities to resemble an Oscar Awards night. Mind, I have never, in my years in this lifetime, gone to any party wearing anything “glamorous”. I boycotted the two prom nights in high school and had opted to re-read the entire set of the Chronicles of Narnia when I was in junior year and to go chase the sunrise in Tagaytay with my cousins on my senior year. But this time, the pressure was on and I had decided in advance not to take part in any of the company-sponsored event.

However…

This teeny voice was giggling in my head. I’ll give this voice a name for future references. I’ll call her Anemone.

Something was afoot.

But before moving along in this narrative, I have to describe the party’s preparation. The assembly hall was in a Catholic university so from that point alone, the celebration had to be only a few hours long because of the curfew set by the good nuns of that institution (12 midnight).

There was a red carpet meant for walking on in such manner as the Hollywood stars posing for the paparazzi in the Awards night (it was not much of use in the actual scheme of things because most of the party-cipants scurried along the corners to find their seats; most looked awkward and discomfited in their borrowed suits, ball gowns and shiny dresses).

The food was catered by a local restaurant. Buffet tables were set for each colored section of the seating plan. These section colors were red, green, gold, and orange. And the smorgasbord had two types of rice (fried Shanghai and steamed), pork lechon, semi-fresh garden salads, galantina chicken, steamed fish, beef steak, fruits in heavy syrup, and tiny dessert glasses of Black Sambo. I know many will disagree with me but the food was not as marvelous as I would have expected.

There was a raffle slated and door prizes were given away. Some of these prizes were MP4 players, Nokia mobile phones, a TV set, a bachelor’s refrigerator, gift certificates, grocery baskets, and sack of rice. Many were wishing that they’d go home with a prize. I could hear my fellow employees talking among their groups around posters announcing the prizes to be given away days before the party.

One such conversation went like this:
Girl with chandelier earrings: Imajina! Engrande kaayo ang mga premyo this year! (Imagine! The prizes are so grand this year!)
Gay guy in a striped shirt: Ah, sure! Ma’y’ unta’g maka-cellphone ko. (Oh, sure! I wish I’d win a cellphone.)
Girl in a too-tight blouse: Day, ug makadaug ko ug usa ka sakong bugas, maayo na kaayo. Paulian nako’ng mama. (Girl, it’d be good enough if I’d win a sack of rice. I’d sell it to my mother.)
Girl with chandelier earrings and Gay guy in a striped shirt [in unison]: Ha?! Paulian pa jud nimo? (What?! You’ll sell it to your mother?)
Gay guy in a striped shirt: Ka-ingrata ba nimo, oi! (You’re so ungrateful!)

Then they proceeded into the topic of what to wear. I was eating lunch at that time and upon hearing about ruffles and fringes, I had to scurry back to my work station. I don’t have anything appropriate to wear.

Or so I thought.

Saturday morning dawned bright yet dreary. I went out to take down the laundry from the previous day. Anemone (that voice in my head) was up and awake and was giggling unapologetically. Something was up.

So there I was, still half-awake, folding the freshly laundered clothes when Anemone called my attention to something above my head swaying in the breeze. My purple velvet nightgown. And right beside it, my mother’s silk shawl (fringed). Anemone was hee-hawing. I think snot was running down her nose as she laughed at my quizzical reaction.

A marquee appeared with “Hmmmmm…” written in red LED letters.

Bronze strappy sandals + nightgown (no one would know) + Ma’s shawl = ?!!!?

To make this story short, I decided to go to the party wearing my nightgown and my mother’s shawl. I enjoyed going because Hyacinth was there, as was Andromeda and her sister, Diva. And the gods must have rewarded me for listening to the teeny voice, Anemone for I won a sack of rice! No kidding!!! My month’s supply of carbohydrates is assured. And no worries, there was no teary-eyed thank-you speech from the winners. And no, I did not lug around a 50-kilo sack of rice on my way home wearing the nightgown and sandals and looking posh (at least to myself). The rice had to be claimed in a store the next morning.

Ok, so before this year ended, I finally broke the taboo of wearing a dress in public. I also enjoyed a party which I had thought to just bore me into a coma. An added bonus was the rice. FYI: I’m not selling it to my mother.

As the countdown for Christmas ticks, I’m one of those holding a sparkler in one hand a slice of ham in the other.

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