Today was our office holiday party, but in Hawai'i that carries a whole new meaning. First of all, I know a number of lawyers at big firms where a holiday party includes a lot of alcohol and catering and networking. It's not quite the same when you work for the Hawaii State Government. We have 30 people who work in the office, but everything is about Ohana (family) here. That means that when you throw a party, you invite everyone. There were over 100 people crammed in our tiny office eating and snacking and having a good time. It was during the day, which was done so more people could come. It also means no outrageous stories.
Setting up for this party reminded me of home, actually. I have a pretty big family (8 aunts and uncles, 30+ first cousins) and holidays are our only chance to get everyone together at the same time. The family Christmas party every year is a complete and total mad house with kids running around doing God-knows-what. Everyone brings a different food item. There are amazing smells wafting in the halls and kitchen. There is always someone's girlfriend/boyfriend/random friend that no one knows. We catch up on school, work, and life. We also do a secret Santa where everyone gets the chance to do something nice for a brother, sister, or cousin. It's my favorite time of year.
Our holiday party was exactly like a family event at home. The secretaries were amazing. They got most of the food from caterers, but also made about a dozen homemade items. There were TONS of homemade desserts, crab dip, crab/vegetable sushi, Bulgogi pork, Kalua pork, garlic chicken, chips/dip, pasta salad, and spinach salad. Setting up for the party was a hectic dash to make everything come together, but somehow it did. When everyone arrived, we were all milling around bumping into each other, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends. On top of all that, EVERYONE also got a gift. Nothing major, just gift cards, poinsettias, little christmas trees, tins of cookies/candy, kitchen supplies, or other random gifts. Do people need the gifts? No. But it wasn't about that.
Setting up the food table
I think sometimes people look at gift-giving as a hassle or burden. Or maybe they think, "well, the person doesn't care, why give a gift." Our secretaries went out and bought all these gifts, wrapped them ALL, and then put them around the office with an assigned number. When people showed up, they picked a number out of a hat and had to find their gift. Everyone had a great time searching around. Not one secretary complained while they were putting in the time for this. They had fun. Yes, I am traditional, that's true. But it seems to me that Christmas is the one time a year where families get a chance to do something nice for each other. Who cares if it's small? Gestures are a big deal and they mean a lot.
We decorated EVERYTHING
Recently some grinches people in my family decided they no longer wanted to do the secret santa. They didn't want to spend the $20 on a gift card. Not only did they not want to spend money on family, they didn't want to deal with the hassle. Nevermind that they don't even need to buy a gift. Whatever happened to making someone dinner as a gift? Or taking someone to lunch? Or babysitting? This week I saw 6 secretaries wrap 100+ gifts for co-workers, colleagues, and people they didn't even know, all without complaining. They made dozens of homemade desserts and entrees, all without complaining. I think people who complain about having to go to the store to get a gift card might want to take the stick out of their ass. So while Hawaii has its quirks, for sure, one thing I love about it is that everyone is family here and they treat each other accordingly.