'Tis the season to think fiscally. As the year comes to a close, accounts are settled and bills get paid. Or put off until the haze of delirium passes into memory. It would be great if the joy of the season didn't come with the worry of how we were going to pay for all this joy. There was, back in the day, a way to ameliorate this situation: A Christmas Bonus.
It has been some years since I have received an extra check at the end of December. When I worked at a video store, after we closed up on Christmas Eve, there was a party amid the mostly empty shelves, and as beers were sipped and chips were dipped, cards were handed out by the owner. Inside the card was an extra little something to help make the holidays a little more cheery. That extra bit of cash made the onslaught we had endured standing behind the counter in the days leading up to the one day of the year we were closed. And it paid for an extra gift or two for my friends and family.
When I moved on to moving furniture, I was still afforded the treat of a holiday bonus for a job well done. The formula wasn't directly tied to the number of desks under which I had crawled or the pounds of other people's junk I carried from one corner of the IBM plant to another. But it was a remembrance of the toil in the trenches. I wasn't buying a new car or financing anything that I might not otherwise have considered on my furniture mover's salary. I was happy to have money in my pocket to start the new year.
When I worked at the employee-owned book warehouse, salaries and bonuses were all about revenue sharing. Everyone got an equal share, and there was no particular holiday associated with its disbursement. It had everything to do with the politics of the institution in which I found myself employed. I was a manger. Big deal. I was on the board of directors. Big deal. It wasn't a bonus so much as an expression of the freedom of the proletariat.
Then I became a teacher. There are no bonuses to be found here. Except this: The other day I was sitting in front of the school, waiting for students to be picked up. A kindergartner was scampering up the ramp and down the stairs, chattering away as kindergartners whose parents are late picking them up will. As she rushed past me, I heard her say, "Came to some tall grass. Can't go under it. Can't go over it. Can't go around it. Guess we'll have to go through it." She was going on a Lion Hunt. This was the shtick I had taught her in PE class. Now, here she was, rambling around in a world I had set up for her.
I got my bonus.