Thursday, December 22, 2005
FED Files - Volume XV
Every year the halls of the HDI Federal Center are decked with "Christmas Cheer". Most doors sport big bows of red felt, wreaths, or some other ornament. Every year guidance on Christmas decorating is sent through the building by the Building Manager in the attempt to keep decoration-related disasters down to a dull roar. They publish in their guidance the maximum amount of weight that can be hung off the ceilings, the amount of light strings per cube, when to turn off the lights, the building's strict candle policy, etc. And every year, people find ways to have exactly what they want and ways to make it legal.
The ladies that sit across the hall from me hold the deed on this talent. They have "legal" Christmas decorating down to a science. Instead of candles, they use Glade Plug-Ins with "Christmas scented" oils. Their lights are strung (though conservatively) throughout the cube area, and the overhead lights are turned off through the season to create "ambiance". Candy (which there is no guidance on - although there probably should be, a sugared up Fed is definitely more dangerous than Christmas lights) is practically dripping from each cube. Garland is placed on top of the cube walls instead of from the ceiling to comply with the maximum-weight-from-the-ceiling rule. Outside the cube-area's double doors is hanging large red stockings with everyone's name sewn on and Poinsettias adorn the floor. Filtering through hall is the gentle sound of their soft instrumental Christmas music.
With such beauty across the hall from us, Laura (my cube-mate) and I felt duly inferior. Laura possessed two Christmas decorations (2 small red and white felt stockings) and I none. Laura was hesitant to offer me one of her stockings, since it was "tacky". But I was grateful to have some reminder of Christmas (as I had none), and I immediately remembered an old boss of mine saying very emphatically, "Honey, if it ain't tacky, it ain't Christmas." So, I shared this sentiment with Laura. The more we laughed at the idea of being purposely tacky, the more we were convinced to make our cubes as tacky as humanly possible.
Where others have satin, we have felt. Where metal and wood, we have plastic. Where garland, we have tinsel. Where tasteful decorations, we have homemade crafts (though the exact origin of many of these "jewels" is unknown, we suspect that many were created at either elementary schools, or nursing homes). Where the instrumental strains of Christmas carols, we have Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.
Yes, we have the tackiest cubes in the building (which is a challenge when there are 2000 people to compete with). It is amazing how much pleasure it has given us. We feel like kids trimming the Christmas tree. Our visitors salutations often sound something like, "Hey.... Whoooooa!" To which Laura will jump up from her cube look around the little partition and say, "Do you like 'the Tacky'?" ('The Tacky' is what we lovingly refer to our decorations as.) Then she walks around the room to point out all her favorite 'Tacky'.
Yes, it has been a very merry Christmas in room number 2-4-33. Silliness abounds. Pleasure mounts. People are happy. And really, the true joy of Christmas is similar. The joy of Christmas is letting go of something perfect and finding something even more perfect. The joy of Christmas was Jesus letting go of Heaven and finding the perfect will of God. He let go. He let go of what He knew to be a perfect place to come down to this one. So, yeah, Christmas can be tacky. Let go of your inhibitions this Christmas. Celebrate the fact that what you believe to be "perfect" may still get more perfect if you just let go of it. And whatever else you do, remember: If it ain't tacky, it ain't Christmas.