After weeks of planning and scheming, the date of the Southgate Coins company Christmas gift exchange and dinner finally arrived. The long-term staff girls, Maya, Crystal, Cara and me (Nicole) all decided to do a “Secret Santa” gift exchange for each other. Unfortunately, with only four of us, the other three girls figured out who picked who very quickly, and I was the only one who ended up not knowing who picked me! Eventually, I was informed that I was the odd-duck out, and was told who the now NOT-“top-secret” Santas were. Luckily, I was fully informed about all the other Southgate Christmas activities, and was very excited to participate.
The girls and I had so much fun scheming about what we were all going to get each other that we tried to get clues from the other girls about the plans of our “Secret Santas.” Of course, we couldn’t forget about getting gifts for our two bosses, Rusty and Marie. We all tossed around different ideas for awhile, but couldn’t agree on what we wanted to get them. When we finally came to an agreement, Crystal and Maya volunteered to go on a shopping escapade the weekend before the party to find the perfect gifts.
Southgate Coins Christmas!
This was my first Christmas with Southgate Coins, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d only heard about last year’s festivities from the other girls, so the anticipation was killing me. Cara, Crystal, and I all walked into work Saturday morning, with arms full of goodies and brightly-colored packages. Maya arrived after we closed at 3:00 and met us for the gift exchange.
The the gift exchange went better than I could’ve ever imagined: First, the “Secret Santas” presented their gifts to their respective recipients, and although we had all spoiled our surprises, we were still excited to give each other the gifts we’d been whispering about for the past few weeks. Next, Marie and Rusty presented us with their gifts. I was so amazed by how thoughtful and attentive each gift was for each specific girl. It really showed how much Marie and Rusty truly care about us, and how much time they spend (outside of work) on their employees. All the fantastic gifts and surprises overwhelmed us, and soon we were all beaming from ear to ear.
Last, but certainly not least, we presented Rusty and Marie with their gifts. We were so pleased when Marie opened her gift first, and she was thrilled to see a beautiful new handbag and a protective digital camera case (for the new camera Rusty had gotten her for her birthday). Rusty opened his gift last, and it was (in our opinion), the most needed gift of the night! It was an impressive Samsonite black-leather portfolio bag, to replace his “well-loved,” 18-year-old grey bag (which was about to bust apart at every seam!) It was very rewarding to see such a positive and surprised reaction from him for something so practical.
With our gift exchange a huge success, we then made our way to the other main event—dinner! Here’s Crystal to tell you about how the next few hours unfolded.
After the gift-exchange at the store, Rusty treated us all to a Christmas dinner at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. All of us long-term girls were there and welcomed our two newest staff members, Dixie and Shayna. We were joined by Southgate Coin’s good friend, Peter Matheu, and of course Rusty and Marie sat at the head of the table, making a total of nine! BJ’s was an all-time favorite for some of us, and a first-time experience for others. It was my (Crystal’s) first time at that restaurant and it was definitely a fun and memorable experience for me.
We all started out with drinks. A few of us “of-age” girls even tried some of BJ’s house brews: Cara and I tried the brewed beer, while Maya had several mugs of their house-brewed root beer. While we all received our drinks and thought of yummy appetizers to order, Rusty warned us that we needed to pace ourselves so that we had room for BJ’s famous Pizookie dessert (I’ll explain more about that later).
For appetizers, Rusty ordered us all a “Best-Beginnings” mixed-platter of many of BJ’s different starters: southwestern eggrolls, spinach-avocado dip, spring rolls, and mozzarella sticks. On top of that, he ordered a separate plate of chili-cheese nachos. If you’ve been to BJ’s, you’ll know that chili cheese-nachos aren’t on the menu, but as Rusty told our waiter, and us, “just because it’s not on the menu doesn’t mean they can’t make it. Be creative.” Rusty ordered it because he knew some of the girls (especially Nicole) really like chili-cheese anything. And guess what? The waiter brought exactly what he asked for!
After the appetizers were demolished, most of us got our entrées. There was a big variety, and everything looked delicious... especially to me. I was the only one that that would be getting my food late. Ha ha. I ordered a simple pepperoni and mushroom pizza and the waiter somehow wrote down pepperoni and pineapple! It was very ironic, considering that at our last company dinner, at Olive Garden, the waiter forgot my entire order, and so I got my food late then, too.
After we finished the main course, the girls started complaining that they were getting full... but remember, Rusty warned them to save room for dessert. Well, it was a Christmas party, so we all managed to make a little more room. With there being six girls now, we split two desserts between us: two decadent chocolate-chip Pizookies. For those of you who have never been to BJ’s, Pizookie is a fresh-baked deep-dish cookie, with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream on top. They came out of the oven warm and they were delicious! Marie ordered a separate apple crisp, while Rusty shared a few bites of the girls’ Pizookie! It was a yummy finish to a lovely dinner.
To wrap up our dinner experience,our good friend and guest, Peter Matheu, presented Dixie and Shayna with boxes of See’s candy just as he did earlier for the rest of us at the store. (Thanks Peter, you’re so generous!)
Now, here’s Maya to share her thoughts about this year’s Christmas celebration at Southgate Coins.
Coin Shop Employees Celebrate
Yes, this holiday season certainly seemed to have brightened everyone’s spirits. As the “veteran” girl at the store, I’ve been privileged enough to participate in three Southgate Christmases, each with its own special flare. I have to say though, with Rusty, Marie, six girls, and even an unexpected special guest, this Christmas set the bar for those to come.
With every year that passes at our coin shop, it’s easy to see that one theme that has become constant among all Southgate celebrations: every current member of the Southgate crew is devoted to not only bringing 100% of themselves to the festivities, but also to making sure that everyone else gets the most out of the occasion. There are always jokes, smiles, laughs, and memories shared between the staffers and the friends of our store—and plenty of pictures to add to the photo album.
None of the Southgate celebrations would be possible if it weren’t for the generous and benevolent nature of the wonderful owners—Rusty and Marie. As I constantly tell the newbies, with each moment that passes in my employment at Southgate Coins, I begin to realize just how unlike any of my past bosses these two people are.
None of us girls could have asked for a more special or fun-filled holiday celebration, and we are all so pleased that it went off without a hitch. I hope that as you cyber-visitors read this weblog, you will find time to cherish those loved ones that brighten your days.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas,
Nicole, Crystal, and Maya