The first big production company I worked for cultivated its own mythology, which included tales of the heady, freewheeling 80s when TV budgets were beyond generous, and so too the bosses. Christmas parties were spared no expense. I remember the technical director reminiscing, in genuine awed reverence, about the CEO literally descending from the rafters of some palatial venue, dressed in a sparkling white suit and expansive feathered wings, to meet his subjects below. It had been a particularly lucrative year, so hiring the rigging to have himself elegantly craned down from the ceiling was a trivial matter. He had fashioned himself as his employees’ angelic saviour, and with actual champagne overflowing and god knows what happening in the bathrooms, everyone was ecstatic to go along with it. Christmas parties were grand, eye-popping spectacles of outrageously extravagant proportions.
This year, that company is sending their staff on a bus somewhere close-by, and another company known for its endless invitation list and equally endless supply of free booze is having a sedate lunch for core staff only. One of the majors here stuffed up their Christmas list so bad that the first any of their producers were notified they’d received a gift from the big wigs upstairs was a note telling them that their gift had been donated to charity because they’d failed to go collect it in the allocated timeframe. Whoops.
It seems times then are lean, and decidedly unglamorous. I wasn’t invited to any Christmas parties this year except for one ‘catch-up’ drink on a Monday night at a bar where we had to buy our own everything. As I later learned, the bar didn’t actually open on Monday nights so they went round the corner to a really dodgy pub and apparently left a note on the bar door for stragglers. As a straggler, I got to the closed bar and found no note and wondered exactly how far down the loser-o-meter I’d now dropped. Bah humbug.
As a freelancer, it can get pretty lonely sometimes, even if the alternative is a dodgy meal with the people you have lunch with everyday anyway. One can technically have a Christmas party for one’s self, but as I just said, I’m already fairly settled in downtown loser town.
This is a message for all you lonely, self-described loser-y freelancers without a Christmas party to go drown your sorrows at this year – Happy Christmas! Or Happy Festive Season! Or Happy whatever it is you celebrate! There is no judgement here. I raise my glass to you – you made it another year, and despite appearances and lack of invitations, you are awesome. Good job.