Christmas time for me, in the last two seasons, brings a mixture of contributions, expectations, and responsibilities that when mixed together creates a cocktail worthy of Hitler's last drink. The shopping is fun. I walk through a store and see shirts or underwear or a silly little ornament and I think, Aw, Billy is gonna love this!, and then I get slapped. Hard. But that certainly doesn't stop me from going into the next store and spotting a stuffed animal or a card and thinking, Oh I can't wait to give this to him!. Smack! If I look at something intimate, like a bathrobe or some socks, the kick in the nuts can bring me to my knees. However, I'm in Macys and a kneeling middle-aged man crying his eyes out is, at best, unseemly. Maybe I should save that for the ride home, huh?
Last year was an absolute breeze in comparison. There were no expectations from me whatsoever although I did make a large contribution to a charity Billy cared for. I donated a thousand dollars to the LASPCA in Billy’s honor. They planted a tree at their new facility with his name on a plaque. and sent me fifty cards to share with my friends. Everyone last year on my Christmas list, whether they wanted to or not, contributed to the SPCA and no one asked any questions. Most thought it a nice gesture. But this year is different, far more complicated with new relationships in business and in my personal life, and time has passed for most, if not all, of our friends, and it's time for me to start acting like an damned grown-up.
But I don't want to. This is all too grown-up for me to wrangle and I'm haplessly ill prepared to function well in shopping for Christmas. It's not that I don't like buying gifts. I love giving presents, and I'm usually skilled in the art of finding just the right thing for that person. This year is all-thumbs shopping. I've found myself some good bargains but when it comes to others, there's really only one person I want to buy for and I'm ashamed to admit it but I have. I bought Billy a little red heart that has the word "Angel" embroidered in script across it. I couldn't help buying it. When I get back to Los Angeles next week, when I go to Rose Hills, I'm going to hang it from his tree above his memorial bench ten paces from his headstone. If he were still here, I would've still bought it for him and it would have ended up on our refrigerator, or our desk upstairs.
I need to invent some corporate-speak about my responsibilities, expectations, and goals. I can't tell them that I’m responsible for taking care of our dog, Bob, and that’s the only thing I really care about. Telling them that I have met all of my expectations to actually shower every day and dress in long pants would probably fall flat. It wouldn’t help my case much, either, if I suggested that a well placed pithy comment during the day to break the office tension was my contribution. As for "cross functional team leadership," perhaps I can just ask them what the fuck that's supposed to mean.