As Christmas parties go, the Up on the Housetop Party was pretty basic: newspapermen (and women) + massive amounts of alcohol = Christmas cheer.
This was in Columbus. The name came from the Christmas carol, which was composed by a local, Benjamin Hanby. For a long time, I’d hear people mention W.C. Handy, aka the Father of the Blues, and I’d think, “Yes, and no one ever mentions he also wrote ‘Up on the Housetop’, the B-list Christmas song.” It’s a good thing I never said this aloud, because if you follow the links above, you realize that not only are they different people, one is a white Methodist from Ohio and the other a black son of an A.M.E. preacher from Alabama, and their lives only intersected for six years. That would be embarrassing, but what can I say? At every Up on the Housetop party I ever attended, I was shitfaced.
The Up on the Housetop party was an unofficial Christmas party, hosted by a few of the older staffers. The official one was a buffet in the newsroom with an open bar. It was served by the staff at the company’s country retreat, where they entertained bigshots and advertisers. The bartenders had been well-trained to put guests in an ad-buying mood by pouring heavy, and they didn’t change their habits when serving at the Christmas party. This was at midday, and even in that different time most people knew enough not to get hammered when they still had half a shift to go and a paper to put out. Not all people. I remember walking through the hallway between the city room and the sports/features departments and seeing a young librarian on her knees, about to hurl. Merry Christmas, darlin’! Those bartenders know their stuff, don’t they?
Although we aren’t supposed to party like that anymore — I certainly don’t — those people knew something we didn’t: That there’s nothing wrong with letting your hair down a bit, as long as someone else drives you home. Most company Christmas parties these days are pretty joyless affairs, crippled by liability concerns and corporate skinflints. I can no more imagine my employer buying me a drink these days than I can — wait. I don’t have an employer anymore. Rather, I’m my own employer. Let me buy me a drink.
Wait. It’s 9:07 a.m.
Tell me the stories of your best/worst Christmas parties. Spare no details. Because there’s nothing that says “our savior is born” quite like stirring your martini with a candy cane, is there?
Holiday weekend bloggage:
Good to see pranksters haven’t lost their sense of humor: A rash of baby-Jesus thefts ends in mass amnesty. If you read any part of this at all, see the last quote.
OID (or River Rouge, in this case): The world’s worst, and dumbest, babysitter helps toddler smoke a joint. And videotapes it.
Happy holidays, all! The holiday photos start next week. As of today, I have but two. So if you’re of a mind to, mail ’em in. Still plenty of time to get your mug up there.