My first day at my current job was October 31. I arrived on campus at 10:30 expecting to meet all the people who would be reporting to me, and for many of them, I thought it would be the first time they knew their old boss was gone. I went into the conference room, we all introduced ourselves, and then someone knocked, opened the door, and said, "The costume contest is starting. Can we take a break?" I nodded, and off we went.
It was an amazing sight to behold, especially since I had just come from a very sad school that was in the process of a very slow motion, very long closing. I loved the energy and the enthusiasm. It was a great first day.
Until last year, we had a costume contest each year. We had treats. In the weeks leading up to the big day, we had pumpkin decorating. This year, we just had treats, with costumes optional, since most students are in lab and need to wear scrubs.
I didn't get to choose the treats, so it was an odd assortment of pre-wrapped stuff: Skinny-Pop popcorn, Lays Potato Chips (the classic kind, nothing interestingly flavored), cotton candy, and very small pieces of candy (Twix, Snickers, and Milky Ways). We had small bottles of water. I had found some cookies on sale at Wal-Mart and some mini cupcakes, so I spent $10, and set those treats up in the break room with fresh coffee and hot water and hot cocoa packets. People squealed with delight about the cocoa, but they didn't drink much of it--but that was fine with me. We also had a game that someone else chose: a big block Jenga kind of game. We set it up, but no one played.
Many students expressed thanks and happiness about the treats, so that was good. A few students wore costumes, and our library assistant wore a witch hat. We had decorated the campus earlier, but having treats boosted the happy energy level in a way that surprised me.
I worried, as I always do, that we would run out of treats, but we didn't. And now, we have snacks for today and probably tomorrow and into next week. We got more Lays chips than anything else, and it's hard for me to imagine that we can ever eat them all.
I chose Wednesday for our festival because we have more students here on a Wednesday than any other day. It's sobering to me to realize how many fewer students we have than we did in 2016, when I first saw the campus in festive action.
But again, let me remember this lesson that I will spend the rest of my life learning: if we don't compare our current circumstances to any other circumstances, we will be far happier. Let me relish the happiness of a Fall Festival that came together with very little lead time. Let me be happy that we can do a pandemic-safe, socially distanced festival.