Jaysus, it's that time of year again, when we used to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord and now we pay tribute to St. Mammon. I've been invited to four work-related Christmas parties already and have managed to slip out of three of them without causing offense. There is a time in your career when it is A Good Thing to participate in these events. A healthy atmosphere at work hinges almost entirely on the esprit de corps of the workers and this is boosted if everyone gets wasted together once or twice a year. Showing face as a good sport makes it a little less likely that your character will be dismembered behind your back by The Viper. I've suggested before that the faux-jolly aspects of work-place Secret Santa aka Kris Kingle can be ameliorated by cruelty as when a group of Finns presented a scythe to a lonely and socially awkward colleague. Numberphile's Hannah Fry at least has an algorithm for making the SS / KK strictly anonymous.
A while ago in the run-up to Christmas, I was talking to the lady-what-washes-the-bottles when we met on the corridor an hour before classes started. She gets up at 0500hrs every workday morning to get ahead with the day before she wakes her 3 sons an hour later. She's not the sort to fob the chaps off with an energy bar or a bit of toast to set them up for a day's book-l'arning. She's also not the type to go flaithulach at Christmas. Indeed she and her siblings have agreed to throw in €10 for each of the kids [N = 8 at the moment] in the next generation, so that each one can get something substantive rather than a bundle of tat that is no good for child or planet. This year, her youngest threw a bit of spanner in the works. Turns out that one of his Aunties volunteers with the Simon Community in Galway, where they have 17 homeless children among families on their hands this Christmas. As well as bringing them in for a proper Christmas dinner, Simon likes to get each child a token Christmas present, so that they have something to unwrap after dinner. Young Master Plongeur, aged 7-and-three-quarters, asked his Mum if he could give €10 of his Xmas loot to the folks in Galway: "That way one child over there will be sorted". His Mum was surprised and a little proud and said that she'd stump up the cost of sending the cash. Then the little blaggard put the screws on his older brothers to follow his example; so they had €30 in the pot.
But it didn't stop there, because his teacher heard about the scheme and got him to say what he'd done to his class-mates. Even they were impressed. I say even they because the young feller has a bit of a speech impediment and the other chaps would normally only acknowledge his existence when flushing his head down the toilets. At the end of of his spiel, he turned to his teacher and asked her if she'd ask the other members of staff if they'd like to contribute to the fund "It's only a tenner. Miss". The upshot and bottom line is that, through the generous heart and dauntless determination of a small-small chap from Wexford, the Galway chapter of the Simon Community has got the Christmas present angle now fully covered and can put €170 towards nappies, sleeping bags or hot soup. Why am I blinking? . . . it must be dusty in here.
Of course, lots of people are generous to the homeless at Christmas [via tywkiwdbi] via reddit] where there is lots of on-point commentary from the homeless. "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little" [prev on quote attribution]. And from homeless we may shift to adoption: girl presents adoption papers to her beloved step-father; and girl petitions foster parents for same.