Man is bowling fun! I had forgotten what a great game it is to play and how much more fun it is to do with family and friends.
On Friday night, Cinzia organized the most fun office holiday party I have ever been to. We were sitting ‘the blue room’ (her office) around Thanksgiving and trying to figure out what to do this year. Last year, my fledgling staff came to my house for a traditional hors’ d’oeuvres party and it was fine…..well actually a little boring….but perfectly nice. This year, my life is in flux and having an at home party wasn’t on the possible list so Cinzia and I brainstormed…..dinner at a restaurant…..party at the office…..money in lieu of a party…..and then we hit upon the best idea of all: bowling! I know, a bit kitschy, but hey, I thought it would be fun!
Cinzia called around trying to find a smoke-free bowling alley and unfortunately the nearest ones were just too far away so we went with an old favorite of mine: Thunderbird Lanes on Maple in Troy. We picked a date, paid our deposit and Cinzia made the invitations. I suspected this would be a hit when I told Pat the plan and she was genuinely excited. You see, Pat’s not a party-loving woman (and neither am I) and this was appealing to both of us. We were definitely on the right track. Next hint that this would be a hit, was that only a couple members of the staff couldn’t make it so I knew we would have a critical mass of folks for fun.
Cinzia is an awesome party planner. We decided on a Chinese gift exchange where everyone brings a wrapped gift and you pick a number and either open a new gift or steal someone else’s. I had never done this sort of present game before but it sounded fun to me! Next, she organized a contest for the most gaudy holiday apparel and the staff loved it. They went all out with three people arriving at the party so decked out that it was clear they were really in the spirit of it all. Cinzia also planned to give a present to every staff member but she had them play a game where each wrote something down about themselves that they thought would be hard to guess. Some were really funny and all were surprising.
At 6:20 or so Mairen (who came along for the evening) and I arrived to help Cinzia set up. We walked into Thunderbird Lanes and the familiar smell of stale cigarette smoke, old beer, and foot odor welcomed us. We knew we were in the right place! We set up and our guests began arriving just before 7. The most elaborately decked out staff members were Paula who had red and white elf socks, red knickers, Christmas lights for a necklace and a goofy Christmas headband, Robin who came with white and silver tinsel and garland as her ‘jewelry’ and hair decor, and Tom who arrived the most bizzare of all as a goth elf complete with fake piercings, and knee high black leather boots. We knew those three were in the running for the prize but then Cherie’s husband Bob arrived with a green sweatshirt decorated with felt Christmas trees and pom poms…a spouse dressed up too….we hadn’t considered that! We met the spouses, chatted, ordered our pizza and had a beer or pop and then the bowling began.
Bowling is a fun game and is one of the few games that is even more fun the worse you are. With that said we had a BLAST. Chuck managed a whopping 48 in one of his games and at the other end of the spectrum was Cherie who broke 200 in one of hers. Despite the wide range of scores, not a single person took things seriously. Everyone was laughing and cheering each other on and enjoying the fun of being together. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had such a freely fun time. I love the people I work with and am soooo lucky to have such a happy group of people to surround me every day.
The ‘tell something you wouldn’t guess about me game’ was really interesting. We learned that super skinny Paula can not only get into the Christmas spirit with her wardrobe (she took first prize) but also can out eat her husband at any meal! Tom, the goth elf, loves opera and ballet (who knew!). Cherie has 3 body piercings! Pat stole flowers from a grave site (alright she was 3 at the time but still!). I can’t remember everyone’s but these were ones that stuck in my mind as ‘wows.’
The Chinese gift most coveted was the space heater (an homage to our freezing cold office) and the iTunes gift card only changed hands once! Fun.
What made the evening so wonderful was that after a year and a half, we know each other well. There are no airs, no need to be on our ‘best behavior.’ Stacey and her husband Marc and Lori and her husband Mark were there and I feel my little family at work is complete. To share my daily life with my brothers, my close friend Cinzia, and a staff that is more a group of friends than a group of employees makes all the difference. A couple of years ago when I imagined my work life, even optimistic me didn’t know it could be this good.
On the way home, at 10:45 (even though the party was only supposed to go til 9), Mairen gently asked me how much I had to drink that night. I hadn’t had anything and told her so. I was just free and happy and myself in ways not even she had seen. What a gift.