Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Story

The customer got a catalog. They were a regular, going on five years. Ordered every holiday. They called the service star. The service star was a veteran and knew them well. Had spoken to them many, many times.

Bad news. The customer wouldn't be placing an order for themselves this year. Just a couple gifts. Nothing wrong with the company. It was something else. The neighbors, a one income family, lost their one income. The job was gone. The customer was spending a portion of their holiday money on helping the neighbors. Food, mortgage payment, the works. Not enough left for the annual box from the company.

The phone call ended. The service star looked up the customer's order history. Entered a new order. Sent it out, no charge.

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Thanks for all the many small acts of kindness that are happening, have happened, and will happen soon. I thought I'd just share one as this season begins to wind down. It reminded me yet again why this is such a wonderful place.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We're off!

Thanksgiving week always marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in my mind. I know we’ve all been working on various parts of the holiday. For weeks, for months. The catalogs have arrived in mailboxes. The service stars have been trained; they’re answering calls left and right. But the Monday before Thanksgiving, that’s the day that we have a huge rush of orders and a bunch of new people here to pack them. It’s the first day with an 8pm UPS deadline that’s always a little tough to reach. (Some years it’s been much tougher than others, that’s for sure. There were days when a hundred orders would put us in a spasm.)

After that week ends, right around now, I begin to remember the emotional rhythms of the holiday. The anxiety of hiring — it’s like throwing a party, will anyone come and if not what does that say about me? The training shifts — who’s late? who are you? The sales that never seem to come when you expect them. The food we run out of and the food we have too much of. The last box on the truck, please just one more! The guy who calls who swears Mo always gives him this discount and can he talk to Mo now? All the dread and elation that small business in America offers, and a lot of laughing. I swear I laugh more in December than any time of the year.

As the rhythm comes over the next few weeks and I have a moment to write about it, I will. For now, if you’re new to it, my advice is don’t fight the wave too much. Surf where it goes. There will be stress. There will be some kooky people. Just ride it and laugh as much as you can. After all, in the end, it’s just food. Glorious, delicious, amazing handmade food, yes, but food all the same.