~ Shift Gift Exchange ~

I know it isn’t rare for people who work together to have a Christmas Party, or Holiday Party in general.  My Captain’s shift has been doing it since before he was the shift’s Captain, and that has been for well over a decade!

Every year in December, the whole crew of firefighters and paramedics get together off-shift, and socialize in REAL clothing, as opposed to in stiff cotton/polyester blends of permanently creased, navy blue, utilitarian county uniforms.  It can be jarring.  I mean, standing in a room full of real-life heroes in their own normal clothing makes them shockingly HUMAN.

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And it turns out that they are every bit as goofy and sincere and warm-hearted in their normal underwear as in their County Underarmour!

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And it turns out their spouses are every bit as goofy, too.

And I will tell you right now that those gorgeous wives are every bit as beautiful in person as their husbands tell me they are, when they are at the station, missing them.

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I don’t know why I look drunk in this picture.  I promise you I wasn’t!  At least, not at this point, …..

So they’ll get together every December, and enjoy cocktails, and a meal that wasn’t scorched on the station stovetop,

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and after that, the REAL fun begins.  Because every December they have a gift exchange.

This is just some of the shift.  There was another table of the guys behind them, but My Captain’s phone camera does not have a wide-angle lens.  What the heck?!

The guy on the far right you may recognize as last year’s rookie, Connor.   Connor is finishing up his rookie year, and is about to leave the shift…and they are NOT happy about that.  He’s a hard worker, and has been a really good sport about all the ribbing he’s had to endure.  I think they’ve given him more than any other rookie, because they like him so very much.  At least, that’s how My Captain explains the weird world of fire department right-of-passage.  In fact, when I ask how Connor is doing, any one of the shift will respond along the lines of, ‘He’ll hold his own when he needs to.”

In the fire department, there is no greater compliment.

ANYWAYS…back to the gift exchange.  It’s an awesome rendition of one, because it is, well,….

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NOT your normal, run-of-the-mill Secret Santa kind of gift exchange.  This is one of those silly exchanges, where everyone tries to out-do each other with weird, often inappropriate gifts. Over the years, we’ve seen beer dispensers shaped like fire hydrants, edible underwear for men, Tonka toy ambulances, and hilarious t-shirts.  This one, a couple of years ago, was for My Captain.  He had just been in the hospital, suffering from diverticulitis (all that ding-dang fire station popcorn!).  His shift, 31-C, decided to do a little something extra for his gift:

163285_1708552484484_3742247_nEMBROIDERED, no less.  This group is a sensitive bunch, I tell ya.

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Anyways, this year was no different than the previous years of inanity and hilarity.  Every gift was either a tool, or expensive whiskey, or something that looked like it came out of Spencer’s Gift stores.   I’ve come to enjoy helping My Captain search out and buy the best gift for the party we could possibly find.  Something rare, something special.  Something truly memorable.  This year was a winner, if I do say so myself.

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It was “The Redneck Plunger,” a shot-gun rendition of a working plunger, which is vastly different than a plunger-rendition of a working shot-gun.  Complete with working pump action and sound effects.

Poor, er, I mean, Lucky firefighter Tom and his wife won this particular gift, and it could not have been bestowed on a more grateful subject!  Tom and Leslie have an awesome sense of humor, and no doubt will make good use of it, as they  have a baby fast approaching toddlerhood, and will soon begin to find various non-toilet items in the toilet, as toddlers love to do.  Fact is, they NEEDED the Redneck Plunger.

I just love this shift.  Many of them I’ve known for about a decade.  Some of them are new friends.  But all of them are quality people, and I feel so blessed to have My Captain surrounded with, and protected by, them.  It’s easy to forget during a party like this, that their normal interaction is in the emergency services setting.  On any given shift, with statistically more likely chance than any other profession, (save the police, or active war-time armed services,) any one of them could be killed.

Or saved by another one of them.

And on every shift,when they aren’t directly training or responding to a  911 call or Collapse Rescue Team rescue, they relate by teasing, or pranking, or giving each other a hard time in general.  It builds the bonds that they will need to rely on later, when the you-know-what hits the fan.

It’s definitely the Work Hard, Play Hard mentality. With a little SURVIVE thrown in between.

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Of course, Master Firefighter Craig, (remember him from ~What Kids Really Need~ ?) makes this look easy.

I can’t wait until next December’s party!!!  I wonder if there is such thing as a Redneck Fire Helmet?

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