The tutors who work at the Palo Alto College Writing Assistance Center are mostly in their late twenties and early thirties which means they’re young and energetic. Because they haven’t clocked many years on this planet, they’re not yet tired or jaded. This is likely the reason they’re so incredibly gung-ho about everything. So, when the college announced that it was time for everyone to begin to prepare for the annual Christmastime office door decorating contest, they were immediately all in and very excited.
On the day they were to begin to transform our drab door into a kind of winter wonderland, I let them into the storage room that’s chockful of rolls of colored construction paper, tinsel, and all manner of sparkly and twinkly things. They hauled nearly a ton of stuff out of the room and began to go at it with scissors, staplers, and glue guns.
I asked them what they thought they might do. They looked at one another and spoke vaguely of igloos, snowy mountains, Santa Clauses, elves, reindeer, and Christmas trees. There were tons of ideas but very little focus. They eventually admitted that they’d probably need to think a bit before getting started.
While they were sitting around and brainstorming, an email came out announcing the three prizes that would be awarded to the first, second, and third-placed doors. Because the tutors liked the prize for third place better than all the others, they immediately realized that it was in their best interest to do a good job but not to hit a homerun.
It must have been Kate who came up with the idea that they should work animals into their decoration. Hearing this, Monique sat down and immediately started cutting two large shapes out of black paper that would eventually become penguins. With all this cutting and talking going on around me, I started getting into the Christmas spirit myself. I can often be a bit of a Scrooge, but given the right sort of circumstances, even I can be drawn in and softened up. I don’t know what possessed me, but the next thing I knew, I had opened my mouth and said, “If I were to be an animal and a part of your door decoration, I’d choose to be a dodo bird.”
The next thing I knew, the tutors were on the internet and searching for images of dodos. Shortly thereafter, they were cutting one out of brown construction paper. Because I’m a bit of an absurdist, I suggested that my dodo have a red nose since we weren’t including a Rudolph. Monique agreed and took it a step further by adding an elf hat too.
I wanted to see how far I could push things, so I asked if a muffler could be added to my bird because dodos seemed to be—back when they still existed—more of a warm-weather animal. Monique thought for a moment and said, “I think your dodo is now at max dodo.” I loved her line, and the moment she spoke it, I knew I had my inspiration for this week’s blog.
Eventually all the animals were added to the door along with a Christmas tree and snowflakes and the like. We’ve heard that the judges will be going around campus looking at all the doors over the next few days. We’ve got our fingers crossed for third place.
I’d like to conclude by sharing a bit of wisdom that came as a result of being a bystander while a number of energetic young folks pasted lots of colored paper on our center door. Without further ado, here it is: There’s only so much you can do with a dodo without crossing some pretty serious lines.
Happy Holidays, all!