When I saw the Christmas tree images appear on my Instagram feed last weekend, it was the weirdest thing. There are usually key milestones that I associate with the Christmas period officially starting.
- The Coca Cola Santa ad.
- The Toys R Us ad.
- The John Lewis ad.
- The turning on of the Christmas lights on Oxford Street.
- The discussion of office secret santa gifts.
- The office Christmas party.
Since this all began, I’d lost track of the days and months. Somehow it was December. Somehow I’d missed the first five things on the list. But, the work party? No, no, no. I was not going to miss this.
The Christmas party is one of two events in the calendar where the European offices come together. It always has, and alway will be one of my favourite work events in the year. A celebration before everyone goes off to their respective homes to eat well and be merry. A time where we all scrub up well.
As always, the lead up to the event was chaos. I had left shopping to the last minute; and in my madness, I decided to order 7 items from ASOS three days before the party. I didn’t want to spend a day dealing with changing rooms and walking around shops. Online was the convenient choice for me. I had gained weight over the last few months, and didn’t want to deal with looking at clothing rails with nothing above a size 12 that suited me. I wanted to sit at home and wait for Mr Delivery man to arrive with the clothes; and for me to try them on all in one go. Simple!
The outfits arrived two days before the party. None of them fit. Of course they didn’t!
I decided Tuesday morning I would blitz my way through Westfield to get something to wear. It would be a piece of cake. The aim, to be there by 9am; sweep through the department stores first; check out for sale items; stick to a budget; then be home by lunch.
I got to Westfield at 10. I went to House of Fraser; too expensive. Went to Debenhams, nothing in my size. Popped into Mango; didn’t have the outfit I saw online. Let’s try Zara. Nothing.
By 11am I was a fed up girl with shorter hair that I hadn’t figured out how to style yet; and no outfit. The solution; a coffee and a croissant!!! Everyone knows the golden rule. If you have an idea of what you want, you will never find it in the stores. NEVER!
I ended up buying one of the first outfits I saw. It cost more than I planned, but it suited me, and that was the main thing.
I’ve worked in my company for 7.5 years. The longest I’ve ever worked at a company in fact; and over that time I have gained a good number of solid friendships. I respect my colleagues. They are smart, they are driven, they can handle working with me (for the most part); they are fun people; and as a result, we have built close relationships. So, whenever there is an opportunity for us to all be together, it is a guaranteed good time. We are like a family!
This would be the first time I would see the majority of people in the office since surgery. I was nervous. My hair was shorter. I wasn’t sure how dressy people would be. Every year prior to this, I would get ready with a group. We would go to the party together. This time around, I was going solo. I didn’t want to have the whole build up in a group. I didn’t want the girls to see me getting dressed and prepped. I had to do this myself. My body was different. I had to do this myself. I sorted my hair. I had the Spanx on. I had the outfit on. I was ready!
When I arrived at the venue, something switched. Every insecurity I had about my appearance, and about myself faded. For the first time in a long time I liked how I looked. From my hair to my outfit, to my makeup. That’s the thing; when you go through something as drastic as two surgeries, and a shorter hair cut in the space of a month; it affects you psychologically. You just need to find a way to accept the new you. You need to find things that work. You just have to.
From the moment I stepped through the door, I knew the night was going to be a good one. Victoria and Christine were the first two people I saw, and they both gave me the biggest hugs. It was so good to see them. It was so good to see everyone. It had been a month since I’d been around these guys; but it felt like so much longer.
I laughed, I cried, I talked, I had photos taken, I danced, I drank; boy did I drink! I was happy. The “look” was received well. A number of girls complimented me.
“You look great.” Thanks. *It’s the Spanx and the implant*
“The hair really suits you!” I actually think I should have gone shorter.
Let’s face it; girls do not lie to each other. They really don’t when it comes to compliments. I felt great. I was happy to see everyone, and they were happy to see me. And, it was the first time in two months that I forgot about everything, and that I felt some sense of “normality”.
By the time 11pm came, the “official” party was done, but I was not done. I was not going to be Cinderella for the evening. I would carry on; so I did. We went to Barts. we went to Maggie’s. We closed each place down. I went home; it was 4am.
Eight hours later, I was in the Breastitute, having my dressing removed; hungover as hell – maybe still a bit tipsy; relaying my evening to Katy.
Go hard, or go home.
That’s what I told Katy. Who says this kind of stuff to their surgeon? Apparently I do!
I’m convinced Katy was proud of me for making the appointment. I knew I was. The nurses gave me some berocca. I said I wanted a burger. And with that, and a recommendation for £5.95 lunch deal at GBK; Jo and I went to eat.
The work Christmas party was the last big night out before chemo was starting. I was exhausted, I felt awful, but to have one last big celebration; to me was totally worth it.