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The “Visions of Sugarplums” Effect

Sometimes an observation is proven wrong with experience. I’m here to tell you that this one rings true again this year. Vacant stares, silly mistakes and absences seem to be the holiday norm right now at our factory. Needing or wanting to get more critical work done doesn’t matter, Christmas time’s a comin’. Here’s the yearly Christmas tale of woe.

I’m not sure it is mentioned in Business School, but the “visions of sugarplums” effect is a real thing during the holiday season.

Expect from many employees:

– Increased absences

– More mistakes

– Not listening to you

– Just not getting as much work done

– Blank stares

With visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, it isn’t easy to concentrate. Too much (or too little) holiday cheer whether in the form of liquid alcoholic refreshment or tankers of corn syrup and refined sugar or demanding relatives… Workers tend not to be at their best during the holiday season, and if you don’t plan for that, you are ho ho ho a fool. Asking for additional assistance from folks at this time of year is mostly a non-starter, you can ask but you are not likely to get.

Have a fun Christmas/Holiday Party (I’m not sure I can recommend that you imitate our Xmas parties of the early years of my company where among other things we danced on top of the dryer and used a baseball bat to smash homemade pinatas full of nips…) and just don’t expect too much this time of year or you’ll just be disappointed.

And while we are at it, what exactly is a “sugarplum?”  A sugar plum can be a piece of  dragee or hard candy made of hardened sugar in a small round or oval shape.

“Plum” in the name of this confection does not always mean plum in the sense of the fruit of the same name, but commonly refers to small size and spherical or oval shape. Traditional sugar plums often contained no fruit, but were instead hardened sugar balls. These hardened sugar balls were comfits, and often surrounded a seed, nut, or spice.

And why the visions of sugar plums? That is from the poem known commonly as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

A New York writer Henry “Harry” Livingston ”

Henry “Harry” Livingston who probably wrote “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

actually is most like the author of this poem which includes the line “visions of sugarplums,” but Clement Clark Moore

Clement Clark Moore who took credit for “Twas the Night Before Christmas” but probably did not write it.

gets the credit for most of the past 100 years or so. Also you probably know it as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” but that’s not the real name of the poem either.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”


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