It happens in a day. It's just one day. You wake up, head to work and you think, "ok, we've got this". And so it seems. And then... then... it happens...
I can't speak for other retailers this time of year but I can certainly speak to the small family chocolate business. Here we are chugging along in the holiday season. It is a challenge every year. And every year we say to ourselves,"It's going to be different this year. We are going to be better prepared!" If you are laughing at this you are either family, a close friend or someone else who is in the "business".
You lose it in one day. You are still trying to produce chocolate and the enrober ( in our case her name is Gladys) acts up. It is almost like she senses the change in the atmosphere. The desperation is palpable. That desperate thought of whether or not you are going to have enough candy to get you through the season. Gladys knows and that is when she decides to act up like a two year old not getting enough attention. How Gladys behaves is a direct line to Papa's body language, which is a direct line to Shelly, which is a direct line to me.
If that isn't enough the phone starts ringing with corporate orders from companies who have decided they have enough in their budget to buy gifts this year. Who is going to argue with that? It is hoped for and somewhat expected but always takes us by surprise. How many boxes? You want me to ship it where by yesterday?
And so it builds. We are tired. We are trying to bring Christmas to our own families and be somewhat normal through all of this. We are asking a lot from our employees and even more from ourselves. In one day we are elated and exhausted. We are confident and panicked. We are working late nights and early mornings.
We try to maintain calm and remember what this season is all about. We are family. We are supposed to be loving and supportive to each other. For the most part we are. We talk about what needs to be done and how we are going to get it done. When inventory is shrinking we have to tell Papa what we need. So the conversation will go something like this...
Me: "So Dad all that penuche fudge you made is almost all gone."
Dad: "What do you mean it's all gone? I just made you a batch. What the hell did you do with it?"
Me: "I sold it."
Dad: "What do you mean you sold it?"
Me: " I sold it."
Dad: "You couldn't have sold it. I just made it. Check with Suzanne."
So off I go to chat with Suzanne. The whole time I am hoping and praying that she will tell me differently. But such is not the case. So it is back to the kitchen for another conversation with Papa.
Me: "Remember how you always tell me that if we run out of stuff that is a good problem to have?"
Me: "We have a good problem with penuche. We don't have any left."
Dad: "I will make more."
That my friends is how you lose it in one day. It is a blessing to be somewhat overwhelmed in the chocolate business this time of year. We ebb and flow through this time together. Some days are better than others. What is constant is the hard work and the emotions that go with it. What is most important is that we are family and we are doing it together. Good, bad and ugly together. <3