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2012-01-04 / Loose Ends

Parties of holidays past…

Susan Nienow

My other half has been retired a few years now, and I still miss his office Christmas parties. I loved shopping for something new each year that I would only wear once. And I’ll never forget the anticipation of seeing people I hadn’t seen since the party a year ago. We would bond over the cream cheese during that long, three-hour affair and then go our separate ways for the next 12 months.

And since it was a large business, the party had a cast of – well, hundreds at least. I would usually know five or six. The food was usually good because with hundreds of people, you get shrimp. The music was always live and loud, my favorite. It is so easy to talk over loud music.

I never knew what to wear because with a crowd like that, anything goes despite the fact that it was supposed to be a dressy affair. I tried to aim for the middle, somewhere between tight and sequined and red cotton knit. I also tried to be nice to people who talked to me while looking over my shoulder, wondering if anyone more important was coming along.

Retirement has meant no more big company parties. It means giving our own, if we want parties or going out of town and completely ducking our seasonal responsibilities.

This year, every event we wanted to go to was on the same weekend. That often happens. One year we tried to go to three parties in one night. That was a huge mistake. We spent most of the evening driving, getting in and out of our coats, and saying hello and goodbye.

Today’s most popular dress level is described as “dressy casual.” Really, what is that? Jeans with sequins, a dressy top and 4-inch heels is what my daughter and daughter-in-law would wear. But that whole look is lost when I wear it with comfortable shoes. I don’t care if I wear the same thing two years in a row, or dredge up something out of the closet that is 10 years old. I have no intention of paying for an outfit each year that I only wear once or twice.

The goal is to stay awake for most of the party and stay away from the desserts. I am happy with wearing anything that fits, looks somewhat festive and goes with comfy shoes. My goals are quite different from those of decades ago.

Now I take my other half to my company party. It is small and instead of engineers and technical people, it is full of creative, even artsy people and their significant others. We see the same people each year and also get together with many of them during the year. The conversation is about local current events and personal tidbits, not new machinery or production rates. Sweet revenge.

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