IMG_0254 (2)December can be a gloomy time of year. Even though Christmas carols play and holiday lights twinkle, the temperatures drop, the wind howls and a mostly gray sky greets us each day. It’s hard to get out of bed and go to work some days.

My first job out of school was a grim reminder that there would be no extended holiday vacation and the drudgery of work would extend through the entire month of December.

My first year or two on the job, I would notice unexpected employee elation in my department by 9:00 AM one Monday a year in December, but I paid no attention to the source.

Then came magical Monday. Somewhat surreptitiously, Betty Kipnis summoned me to her desk shortly after I arrived to work that December day. Betty was on our support staff, and while we did not have much interaction on a daily basis, I sauntered over.

With a sly smile, she opened her top desk drawer, looked around to make sure nobody was watching and opened a small holiday tin canister as the strong smell of Bacardi wafted my way.

“They’re rum balls,” she whispered. “Take two.”

I thanked her and carried the prize in a napkin to my desk. Now, I hadn’t had breakfast that day, and as I bit into the second one, I could already feel a glow. That morning was quite tolerable as Monday mornings in December go. Even the overhead piped-in Muzak sounded OK. Now I knew why Snow White whistled while she worked. Betty made a mean rum ball.

I had joined the inner sanctum and would be summoned one Monday each December to Betty’s desk for the duration of my employ at that job to savor her prized delicacies while whistling away the morning.

Flash forward thirty years, give or take a decade. After the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I was chatting with my cubicle aisle mate about our respective dinners. Let’s call her RBG (rum ball girl). She shared that her Thanksgiving desserts included rum balls and I told her the tale of the fabled rum balls of Kipnis.

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When I came to work today, there was a sandwich bag full of rum balls on my desk. I looked across the aisle, but RBG was away from her desk. I opened the bag and popped one in my mouth. They rivaled Betty’s, maybe even surpassed them. I stashed the bag in my desk drawer.

When she returned to her desk, I thanked her profusely for the kind gesture.

She asked, “Did you like them?”

“Oh yeah,” I replied with a grin.

The guy in the cube behind me, who was about the same age as I was when I was first introduced to rum balls, asked what all the fuss was about. So I opened my desk drawer and shared one with him. He loved them, even asked RBG for the recipe

It was at that moment I realized the irony of the moment.

There I was invoking the spirit of Betty, opening my desk drawer to share December joy with my co-worker. Isn’t it funny how things go full circle sometimes?

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