Ever wonder what a typical week is like for the 23 employees who devotedly put together each issue of the Chronicle? Well, think about the fact that 22 of those employees—everyone but Rob Banner, the publisher—is female. Put 22 women in close quarters, on tight deadlines, for 40 hours a week and sit back. There are those of us who firmly believe that we could start our own version of The Office TV show. And there are some weeks when we’d make that Scranton, Pa., office scenario look dull and boring.
Add to that the holiday season, and the sometimes tense, usually entertaining work atmosphere has an added twinkly, decorated charm. The composition room—a large, open space where the magazine gets laid out—becomes a Christmas wonderland, with tinsel and garland hanging from every available surface (even the doorknobs!). But please note that the colored lights framing the doorway to some editorial offices are year-round decorations. Each one of those bulbs is topped with a miniature replica of a Chronicle lampshade, and we turn them on when we need a little extra cheer added to any given day.
And the holiday season means food. Lots of food, brought in and presented temptingly on a seemingly daily basis. Everyone has their seasonal speciality to share, and the idea of eating meatballs at 9 a.m. becomes more logical as their tantalizing aroma wafts up from the kitchen. There are people who plan their vacation days around the arrival of Sharon Rose’s mother’s famed cheese log. And when else can one office of people consume a giant bag of nuts in one day? And don’t get me started on the cookies.
See our photo on page 7. Yep, that’s all of us. The Christmas photo is a Chronicle tradition, much like it is for many families. Looking back at holiday photos from years past incites gales of laughter at the hairstyles, and the inevitable comments on how kindly the passing years have treated various staff members, many of whom have been here for decades.
The photos you won’t see are from the Chronicle’s annual holiday lunch, which has reached somewhat mythic proportions. One Friday afternoon in December, we put the magazine to bed early and head out for libations, nourishment and a bit of festive fun. We grace different area restaurants each year (of course we’re allowed back at all of them, but believe in sharing the fun), but the one requirement is a spacious bar area for a few cocktails before the main event. There’s a blur in which, apparently, some food is served. And then we carry on with secret-Santa gift exchanges, a little singing and (what we’re really all waiting for) the dispensation of the bonus checks.
There are a few legends that have risen from the ashes of these parties. Can you guess which Chronicle staffer has broken her arm falling down the stairs in her eagerness to grab her bonus check? Was it or was it not the same one who got herself locked in the restroom at one of the restaurants? One year, an intern felt the need to express her gratitude and appreciation to us in a slightly slurred, somewhat incomprehensible (but very entertaining) speech. And who can forget—from the glory years when there were three, count them, three male staffers—the vocal stylings of the “Chicksie Dixs,” who sang hilarious parodies of Christmas carols in a charmingly off-key manner.
But all the laughter stops when Sharon Rose and Pappy Boyce take over the singing, and the entire staff of the magazine pauses to enjoy their superlative, soaring voices. All jokes aside, it’s a special moment and one which yearly reminds us how lucky we are to work with such an unusual, talented and dedicated group of people. A lot of effort, thought and work go into each issue of this magazine, and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy putting it together. Happy holidays!