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Vol 38  No 7
December 15, 2005


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Employees create their own unique holiday wonderland

‘The Christmas room’

By Jeff Green

Maureen Day (L) and Bonnie Peddle are big fans of Christmas. Their lunch room reflects the spirit of the season.

Tucked away in a corner of the Chemistry Building on Memorial’s St. John’s campus, a tiny bland-looking lunch room has been transformed into a dazzling Christmas spectacle. While most offices around campus put up a tree and a few strands of lights this time of the year, a small group of longtime custodians have put everybody else to shame. That’s because their room is literally packed from top to bottom with festive lights, garland, tinsel, holly, ceramic decorations and a large Santa hanging from the wall. There’s even “Charlie the Christmas tree,” which they “adopted” after finding him in a nearby garbage bin, and a mock fireplace with tiny stockings.

But the custodians didn’t convert this room in the past few weeks. Believe it or not, their decorations have adorned the walls and ceiling since last fall.

“We started this room last October,” said Maureen Day, a 26-year custodian at Memorial. “We tinfoiled the entire room and put up the decorations and then decided to keep all the stuff up. The tinfoil is great because it reflects the lights.”

“We never did take it down. This is our first anniversary of sorts,” added co-worker Bonnie Peddle with a hearty laugh. She is also a 26-year veteran of Memorial’s custodial team. “I love it. I think this room makes the spirit of Christmas come alive. You can probably guess Maureen and I love Christmas.”

Last year, the two, along with another colleague, Violet Mallard, decided to add some holiday spirit to their lunch room. Whenever they had a bit of free time, they added a few decorations. With a little bit of creativity the co-workers quickly refurbished their plain-looking lunch room into a festive mosaic of holiday mementos.

“Everybody contributed maybe $10 and we just got the knick-knacks that you see around and all the ornaments and the tinfoil,” said Ms Day with a wide smile. “We found our tree in a garbage bin. It was thrown out by another division so we claimed it.”

“This is our Charlie Brown tree,” said Ms Peddle laughing. “It had all the decorations on it when we found it. We said ‘cool, we’ll have that.’ I think he looks pretty good.”

She said people have been coming from all over campus to get a peak of their room. A group of students doing a Christmas-related project recently stopped by and video-taped the room for their assignment.

Ms Peddle said as far as she knows they’re the only custodial group that keeps their decorations up year round. She said seeing the glow of the lights and the colourful decorations and ornaments helps make her day go a little faster. “Coming into work is great,” she said. “I think this stuff is too nice to take it down. It would get too lonely here if we did that; the walls are too white. Besides if we did that we’d never be able to celebrate Christmas in July!”

The workers say they plan to “re-arrange” their room after this year’s holidays. They plan to strip the tinfoil off the wall and use faux red brick paper instead. Although the room will go back to its original white colour, they insist it won’t be for long.

“Oh no, we guarantee to have just as many decorations up after we do a bit of minor surgery here in the Christmas room,” Ms Day said with another laugh.

“This is our place,” added Ms Peddle. “We’re legendary for this now.”

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