R.I.P. – The Office Christmas Party.

With access to the news paralyzed by lack of internet and TV, my good wife has been using her work’s computer to print out anything she considers might be of interest to me. Yesterday, she brought home one item of note. It was a BBC News report stating that three out of four UK employers have banned Christmas decorations and parties at their offices over the coming festive season. The reason given: political correctness; fear of offending staff from other faiths.

Before commenting further it is necessary to advise American readers that Britain sets much more store by Christmas, as a time for feasting and celebration, than you do over here in the US. First of all, Brits don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in November. While you are all stuffing your faces with turkey and apple pie, they are holding themselves in reserve for the big bash – Christmas. It’s at Christmas they really let their hair down and party through to New Year. Many, though not all, companies close down over this period.

Traditionally, the festivities kick off with the annual work’s party, usually on the last working day before Christmas. The lead up to this shindig consists of hanging decorations around the office, dressing a tree, organizing foodstuffs like mince pies, sausage rolls, trifle, etc and, of course, ensuring a plentiful supply of booze is available. Many firms take the whole thing very seriously, forming a committee way back in the late summer to ensure smooth organization.

Hence, this latest BBC report is something of a bombshell. Whatever is happening to the “old country”? Most farcical is the part about causing offence to staff members of other faiths. Let me assure you, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – religious about the office party. Quite the opposite, in fact. As I recollect, the object is to eat and drink as much as can be crammed down one’s neck in the shortest possible time, while ensuring that the object of one’s desires – she you’ve been eyeing from afar for the last twelve months, but haven’t plucked up the courage to ask for a date – is well supplied with the old traditional “leg-opener”, champagne and Babycham, before choosing just the right moment to move in and whisk the unsuspecting virgin into the nearest empty filing cupboard.

Of course, this is only my own, long-ago, personal experience of office parties, though I doubt they deviate much from that format today. In my case, the best laid plans frequently went astray, and though I was always meticulously organized – the lady primed with alcohol, myself “well-tanked” and ready to go – inevitably I would check out a suitable filing cupboard only to discover some gawky, acne-ridden, office junior from down the corridor, already ensconced within, the object of my affections wrapped around him, one hand clasped to a buttock and his tongue thrust deep beyond her tonsils. It was usually about then I decided to head for home.

Perhaps, after all, the demise of the office party is not such a bad thing, though to place it in a religious context is plain ridiculous. One can’t help thinking many employers have been looking for an excuse to murder the celebration once and for all, and have now finally found one.

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