It’s the time of year when it becomes acceptable to stuff your face with calorific, usually-banned, indulgent, goodies, even in the office.
Here in newspaper towers this takes the form of the ritualised Jacob’s Join, a form of mass buffet designed to cause festivity within the newsroom among a staff beavering away under the pressure of multiple early Christmas deadlines.
Of course, journalists being a stubbornly un-festive bunch, there are no other signs of Christmas joy away from the remaining pile of crumbs that was a carbohydrate and sugar -based feast. Decorations are rare in the newsroom, with displays of twinkling joy and high spirits largely left to other departments but mainly advertising where Santa’s helpers abound. This is not, as you might suspect, that us journalists are a bunch of Grinches.
Indeed we are wired to find laughter, joy and humour in the darkest places, a trait developed more as a survival tool when dealing with news stories that are not always happy. However, by the time Christmas comes around stocks of easily-acccessible joy and laughter are rationed, as they would be when you have had Christmas planning and public relations pitches containing the phrase ‘jingle tills’ crossing your desk since April.
So with no tree to admire, no tinsel to twinkle or baubles to swing, the Jacob’s Join (conducted without the use of festive cracker-based hats, naturally) is the newsroom throwing a crumb of acknowledgment to Christmas. A crumb (or several) that will remain on some far flung desk until roughly mid-January, no doubt.
The feast brings out the glorious-gluttons, exposes the Scrooges in the room, showcases the secret chefs , presents a social jigsaw of upbringing or aspiration (sausage plait or salmon gravelax - the choice is yours) but ultimately brings us together for a few precious minutes before we return back to our sceptical selves and face the festive shifts.