The time of year is well upon us now. Holiday parties, in all their reckless, unpredictable glory, spread beneath our feet like poinsettia leaves, loosed from their stems thanks to a stumbling encounter by someone in accounting who’d been too much into the rum punch. Managing their volatile presence inside of an otherwise orderly office environment is a trick, to be sure. No time of the year, after all, issues a more apparently powerful invitation to let down our collective guards than this one, and the conflict that kind of pervasive permissiveness can produce is legion.
Spirituality, in this most spiritual time of year, is no more in play—and no more in peril—that at any other date on the calendar. And so a subject that requires mindful attention always, needs particularly special care and handling now, when tongues are loosened and casual Fridays are casual everydays. One more Christmas cake in the breakroom (does anyone actually eat that?…or are they always stale because they are re-gifted so much) and another angry monologue on the sorry state of parking at the malls and, before you know it, you’ve trampled the mailroom guy’s sense of self and Gary, the new hire in receiving, is filing a human rights complaint with HQ.
This time of year, fraught as it is with a thousand extra obligations and lubricated with a surfeit of sugar cookies and schnapps, is a time to let your spirit sing. But it’s critical to do so in eminently sensitive-to-the-season tones. During December, religious diversity is on every employer’s radar, and the utmost of compassion must be undertaken in its management.
The best strategy? To regard the evolved presence of a boardroom suddenly awash with individual spiritual allegiances as an opportunity to learn and share; not to duck and hide from their unfamiliar scary bits.
It is a time of generosity, a time when strangers who worked eight months across the order desk from each other can become friends in the bonding exercise that is a two-minute rendition of an off-colour Christmas carol. When Ben in shipping finally makes his way across the hall to the orders desk to share a taste of his famous latkes. When the women in the executive assistants pool make a magic-marker underline beneath the first two syllables of “spirituality” on their front-desk banner, and introduce a daily last-week-of-the-year happy hour to celebrate their ingenuity.
Good times, all around. Just so long as no one—save, possibly, Len from shipping who always spends a de rigueur afternoon in the Santa suit—plays the heavy. So go easy on the Jingle Bells now. Don’t go all National Lampoon with your lighting ambitions. Keep a lid on your Saint Nick lids. And remember that tolerance, in this season of all-encompassing spirituality, is the best gift there is.