What’s at the top of your “best Christmas gift” list?

If I were to make a list of my favorites, it would include such things as the new doll I got right before we left New York for Arizona back in 1958; the beautiful portrait of Brian and Robin in 1983; the gold earrings Roland hid on the bottom layer of a 2 pound box of See’s candy; my kitchen table Brian and Carrie got me the year they lived with me; the Kitchen Aid mixer that Robin had delivered to my door; my Tivo from Brian and Carrie (also the year they lived with me); my iPod (not a Christmas gift, but still a favorite.)

But the best gift I ever received had no monetary value. It was the memoir Mom wrote: “As I Remember”. What a treasure it is. Reading her memories of growing up on a farm during the depression makes me long for a more simple, less materialistic life, and it makes me value my heritage. I only wish she hadn’t ended with their marriage. I’d love to read her writings on raising five kids in snowy New York state (remember her talking about bundling us all one by one into snow suits?) and Dad building the house (when I was young, I had an image in my mind of Dad hammering nails into the frame while Mom stood watching from the front yard with Dick and Dale standing beside her and Daryl in a baby seat sitting on the ground), the kid’s antics on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, and our never to be forgotten trip out west in the little school bus.

Please, Mom, forget about grammar and punctuation perfection, and put down the rest of your memories so we’ll always have them to enjoy. Maybe we should make you a blog!

No, I’m not talking about the blustery, blizzard-y weather outside. I’m talking about the rhino virus. Yuck! He’s come to roost on my sinuses. I’m really glad I saved two sick days until the end of the year, because I needed them yesterday and today. Lounging on the couch and sipping chicken soup is all I’m up for. I hope to go back to work tomorrow.

At least I can take comfort in knowing I should be well by this weekend, and can kick my baking activities into high gear. And by the time I fly out to Boise on Christmas night, I won’t have to worry about ear problems.

And I’m really glad I don’t live in Oklahoma where the power has been out for a week. Brrr!! Now THAT’S some winter cold!

About a month ago, rumors started circulating around my office that the company was going to layoff a bunch of employees. The rumors speculated from 10% to 50%. Some said it would be parts of every team, and others said it was mostly management who would be cut. Last week, the buzz focused on November 29th, right after third quarter results were announced.

The earnings release last Tuesday (November 27th) did indeed announce headcount cuts of approximately 400 employees by the end of Q4.

When I went into the office the next morning at 7:30, my manager came by and asked me to go with him to a conference room. I tried to tell him I was very busy and couldn’t do that (comic relief?), but followed him with a pounding heart. The first thing he said after we sat down was, “You have a job.” I dropped my head down and said “Thank you!” But my heart was heavy because I knew not everyone would get the same message. He then told me to pack up and go home for the day. They didn’t want those who were being retained to be around while they gave the news to the laid off employees. I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone before leaving.

Later that afternoon, I got an email from a co-worker letting me know that at least six mask designers had been let go. I didn’t hear from anyone else that day. When I went in the next morning, I found that eight out of fifteen MDs had been laid off, and about half of the engineering team. Our entire Arizona office lost nearly 100 employees.

Have you heard of “survivor’s guilt”? That’s what I’m feeling. I’m so glad to have my job, but heartbroken for those who lost their jobs right before Christmas. One manager said it was the hardest day of his career to have to let so many of his employees go. Many have large families to support, and bills to pay, and health insurance needs. There was a severance package given which will get them through a month or two, but I’m sure most will be scrambling for work anywhere they can find it.

The dynamic in the office has changed significantly. Organizational changes were announced yesterday. We have now become a support organization to the project teams in Santa Clara. I still report to my same supervisor — for now — but we report up into a different manager and department.

Some are speculating that these cuts may not be all and that by the end of next year, we could be down even more. I suspect there will be some voluntary attrition, as some people won’t like the new structure. As for me, as I said before I’m thankful to have my job and I’m willing to do whatever they want me to do for as long as I can.

My prayers go out for my friends who didn’t get that choice.

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