I know, I know . . . It's been two weeks since I last wrote a blog, but in my defence, I've been very busy Christmas shopping and writing my holiday letter. I haven't actually BOUGHT anything or decided which topics I'm going to cover in my Year-in-Review, but the preparation itself is exhausting. I had to buy a huge book of stamps, for goodness sake. What an exhaustingly retro thing to do.
HOLDING OUT FOR THE HOLIDAY LETTER
I've written a holiday letter for the past two years and my friends and family have become really attached to the annual Sharpe saga. My friend Big D. (no, I don't mean Dan Tencer) actually sent me an email asking when he could expect his in the mail. I guess that's what happens when you make the NHL: everyone wants a piece of you. Oh, the sacrifices we make as Oilers.
I'd publish my holiday letter in this blog, but that would ruin the fun for the 35-or-so people who will receive it in the mail. Rest assured that it will be full of witty witticisms and rambly ramblings and a few dozen inside jokes that are so “inside” that only I think they are funny. Ha!
I started the holiday letter because I wanted to one-up my Mom's holiday letter. I spent the first half of the inaugural issue making fun of her. Despite this, she shrugged off the passive-aggressive assault and got me a Christmas present anyway. So the second year I apologized and then went on to complain about how I had nothing to write about. (I've since learned to embrace the fact that I have nothing to write about, as proven every Wednesday in this blog.)
But in year three, I finally get to dish about some good stuff. I bought a new car, got a job with the Oilers, moved to Edmonton, Maid of Honoured my best friend's wedding, flew on the Oilers private jet (twice! I'm heading to Vancouver after tonight's game!), and attended the Oilers Christmas Party.PARTY POINTS
Which brings me to my final – and most-relevant – topic of the day: the Oilers Christmas Party.
This being my first year with the club, I didn't really know what to expect. I knew I'd hear Christmas songs (which I did) and I knew that I'd chat with coworkers I don't see very often (which I did) and I knew that I'd eat too much (which I did). But there were plenty of surprises in store that evening.
Your edmontonoilers.com team: Steve Taylor, Nick Conrad, Jen Sharpe, and Marc Ciampa.
To start, the room was amazing! Our party was at the Shaw Conference Centre in downtown Edmonton and in typical Oilers fashion, blue and orange dominated the palette. Blue satin table cloths with white accents and a towering centre piece featuring orange flowers and sparkly bits provided the perfect setting for our meals (a buffet of delicious over-indulgence, FYI). There was a photo booth and large Christmas tree at the far end of the room, drawing clusters of smiles, satin ties, and sparkly dresses throughout the night. (See the pic of your Web team! We don't always look so good, so please remove that look of disgusted disappointment the next time you see us on a game night at Rexall Place.)
Casino tables were also set up over there, though the money was fake, the laughs definitely were not. I think the team's trainers raked in the most dough, although Steve Taylor gave his road-trip pals a run for their money.REALLY BAD ROCK BAND
At the opposite end of the room, a DJ and complete Rock Band set-up graced the massive stage. Shortly after dinner, the gracious DJ allowed groups of Oiler staffers (and their poor dates) to take the stage and perform their favourite hits. Your Digital Media crew performed the second set, and although we didn't fail the song, we definitely failed to create a fan base. I don't want to name names, but I will: Marc, your singing made my ears bleed. I hope you're happy.
Speaking of singing, a big highlight of the evening happened at the front stage shortly before dinner. After Steve Tambellini delivered a heartfelt thank you to the entire organization, a very charming Christmas quartet took to the stage. Led by the festive and enthusiastic Steve MacIntyre, the team's four rookies – MacIntyre, Rob Schremp, Liam Reddox
, and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers – performed Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Maybe it's due to his extra years of experience or practice performances with his kids, but MacIntyre seemed completely comfortable with Rudoph's tale and the sleigh-bell classic. He kept time by tapping his feet and chimed in with the fun lyrical additions (“. . . had a very shiny nose – Like a light bulb!”). Despite forgetting a few verses, jumbling the lyrics, and wavering off-key a time or two, the other boys persevered through both holiday classics and soaked up the crowd's roaring applause at the end.
Many of the players and wives stayed to mingle after the meal, which was appreciated by everyone. Although I get to see them players on a regular basis, for many in the organization, it was a rare opportunity to stop by, say hi, and wish them a happy holiday.
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
All-in-all, it was a wonderful evening. Although many Thank You's were delivered that night, I'd like to publicly thank the event organizers – Sherry Smith, Connie Hadden, Jill Metz, Kathy Mendes, and Tandy Kustiak – for their hard work. In a field like ours, it's very easy to get lost in the long hours, working weekends, and roller-coaster ups and downs of the season. Even if it's only for a few hours, events like the Christmas Party help us unwind and remind us how lucky we are to work in an exciting environment with people that understand the true meaning of teamwork and friendship.
Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, I hope you can find time to laugh and appreciate the people around you. Thank you for providing feedback on my blogs (positive or negative . . . although I prefer the positive), and I hope I can enjoy more of your wise-cracking comments in the New Year. You're a funny bunch. Not Jason-Strudwick-funny, but still pretty funny.
I'm heading back to Winnipeg next week for the holidays, so you can expect my next blog on New Year's Eve. I'll tell you all about this quick trip to Vancouver and my whirlwind trip to Calgary. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and – last but not least – Go Oilers.