Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Peace & Joy & Beer
I think I’ve shared these sentiments in this blog in years gone by, but they just keep coming back into my head. Therefore they are either very persistent and shall be repeated here, or they are still very relevant and shall be repeated here. And here goes.
No matter whether you are Christian or Calathumpian, Muslim or Mormon, Buddhist or “It’s All Bullshit” – Christmas is a special time. And that goes double if you have kids. There is just a certain something in the air if you choose to sniff it and if you can divorce your senses from the chaotic swirl of consumerism, confusion and fat Mums stuffing their faces (and those of their fat kids) with donuts and hamburgers in the shopping centres – it’s actually a very joyous and peaceful time.
Working for as long as I have in restaurants, this time of year has a frenetic pulse, a seemingly discordant symphonic pace and yet underlying it is a ‘buzz’ of better things. People coming from all parts to share – company, food, beer, laughs – and we get a ringside seat. Watching guests arrive. Nervously looking for their group, stuttering as they weigh up where to sit (Next to the boss? Not too far away from the boss? My partner doesn’t know anyone) Almost apologetically ordering their first drinks. Introducing the partner to the work people. Personal and public lives start to race towards collision.
And then something funny happens.
Christmas kicks in and everyone begins to relax. Work is forgotten for a few hours, family is forgotten and suddenly that bloke from accounts who you all thought was a bit of a knob-end actually seems – what’s the word for it? Human? And Mrs Frontbottom, the craggy-faced, hard-arsed bitch from the front office is actually smiling. Someone take a photo. As the entrees are cleared and the mains are served, you can almost hear the tensions unbuttoning. Sometimes it’s the boss who is ‘holding court’, enthralling the crew with war stories of Global Financial Crises past and tales of working in the factory in pre OH&S days when a ‘ladder’ was any collection of assembled objects that got you to the top shelf and a missing finger was a mark of honour and good source of a nickname.
Sometimes it’s the quiet bloke from the warehouse who takes centre-stage with a ripping send-up of the boss and his idiosyncrasies. Until now, no one else in the business knew he even spoke English. Everyone is laughing and everyone is equal – especially the boss who is both the target and the bloke who will be footing the tab. But it’s Christmas and everything is Festive-coloured. They can’t help themselves, Christmas is making them relax. Maybe they all ‘Road-Raged’ in the car on the way to the restaurant and maybe they cursed and pissed and moaned and kicked the cat that they had to give up a night to go out with work people – but they can’t help themselves now, the Christmas spirit has them firmly by the festive chestnuts.
And so to my Christmas Wish. To all who have read my blog, to those with whom I have shared a real beer and those with whom our beers have been virtual, to everyone who has listened and shared and commented and criticised – Thank You. I will raise a frothy glass to each and every one of you on Christmas day and genuinely drink to your health and happiness. Because that’s what beer is all about. Making the world a better place.
I hope you can all be like the guests I just described. I hope you can see past the wrapping paper and the 50% Off sale signs, past the dickheads and the doomsdayers, the alarmists and the nay-sayers and just enjoy the moment, even if it’s just for a little while. For what it’s worth, I find that sharing a nice special beer with friends helps the process along.
God Bless and Good Beer,
P.S. Disrespecting beer makes baby Jesus cry.