The Napkin’s Odyssey….A Christmas Story Part 4

Part 4 – Let It Be

christams napkin 2Lisa made it in to work around 1:00 PM on Sunday.  She had laminated the napkin to keep it dry.   A mock-up of the banner and a menu insert had been prepared.  John had called her a short while ago and said that Dennis was definitely interested.

Over the course of the night Lisa had thought it might be a great way to raise funds for a few of the local charities that could use the help at this time of year.  She decided to state that if customers would like to make a donation they certainly could but it wasn’t necessary should they wish to participate.

Slipping out of the cool afternoon air into the warmth of the restaurant, Lisa greeted her fellow workers.

Elsie was back at it.  Lisa stopped briefly at the bar, “How are you feeling Elsie?”

“So much better!  Thanks again for covering me, Lise.  I just went home last night and slept.  My fever broke sometime during the night.  Hopefully this is the end of it.” She smiled.

“Good to hear!  I’ve got to go find Dennis.  See you soon.”

Walking to the back she caught sight of him and waved.

“Hi Dennis.” She smiled upon her approach.

“Hey Lisa.  Head on back to the office.  I’ll be with ya in a second.” He replied.

Lisa waved to few other employees as she made her way to the back.  She caught sight of John just before going into the office.  He had agreed to come along as well.  A moment later he entered the office.

“Hey, girl.  Let’s see what you came up with.”

Lisa opened her leather portfolio and John indulged himself.

“Cool idea about laminating the napkin.” John commented holding it up.  “Hmmm.  We could attach a stick and clip it to the tree top.”

“Great idea!  I was wondering how to mount it up there.

“Or we could take a straw….slice it partially down the middle and slide this on.  Well we can play with the idea.” John grinned at her.

“Okay you two,” Dennis stated as he walked into the office.  “What crazy ass shit have you been up to?”

Lisa smiled and began the explanation.  John handed him the laminated napkin which he read through and nodded for Lisa to continue.

“We thought it might be fun to engage the customers.  I’ve prepared a mock-up for a menu insert and we could put up a few banners.  I also thought it might be a great way to raise some funds for some of the local charities.” She finished.

Dennis reviewed the insert and the banner then leaned back in his chair.

John piped up now. “Oh, and we could use the cork boards in the basement to post the napkins on.  I think there are around three or four down there so we could place them in strategic points throughout the place.” He offered.

Dennis looked at everything before him nodding thoughtfully.  It probably wouldn’t amount to much but hell, he liked seeing staff members developing ideas on how to better engage their customers and who knows, it could be fun.

“Can we get this up and running by tomorrow?” he asked them.  Lisa and John smiled big time.  “We sure can.” Lisa stated.

“Okay Lisa, send the digital files to our printer.  I think four banners, and forty inserts should do it.  And this?” he held up the laminated napkin.

“We thought of attaching it to a stick or straw and clipping it to the top of the tree?” John offered.

Dennis smiled.  “It would seem you’ve both thought it through completely.

“What about donation containers?” Lisa asked.

“Leave that with me.  I’ll pick something up later.” Dennis assured.

“Thanks Dennis! I think this will be a lot of fun.” Lisa replied. “Oh, can I leave everything in here for now?”

“Of course you can leave it here, and I will let all the staff members know about this venture and that they have to do this and post it up on a cork board.” Dennis said standing now and devilish grin on his face.  “Let’s get out there and have some fun, shall we?”

As day turned into night, staff members chatted about this little venture.  At the end of the shift John rounded up a couple of other guys and they went downstairs and brought up the four cork boards.  They gave them a good wipe down while discussing placement.

Steamworks is a big restaurant with substantial floor space.  They decided upon three upstairs and one in the lower level.  Each cork board was mounted and secured now.  They had brought a side table up as well that was about three feet in length and two feet in width.  The decision was that this could be used for the napkins and possibly the donation containers.

Lisa had been busy handing napkins out to staff members.  Jokes and comments were tossed around as they sipped on various refreshments and nibbled on sandwiches and burgers.

John had taken a couple of wooden stir sticks and glued the bottom portion together.  He went into the office and retrieved the original napkin and slipped in between the two.  He then took a clip from Dennis’ desk then went back out.

“Lisa darling, come on over here.” He announced loudly.

Lisa got up and walked over to where John stood beside the tree.

“Yes John…” she smiled.

He held up the napkin “I do believe you should do the honours.”

Lisa took the napkin and reached up but the tree was too tall so John lifted her up.  They almost knocked the damn tree down but eventually they had success.

Lisa had everything on a flash drive and had dropped it off at the printers before her shift.  Dennis would pick up everything in the morning.

They looked at the tree with the napkin clipped to one of the top branches.

“Shine bright little napkin.” Lisa said with a smile.  Then the remaining staff finished their task and posted their napkins on the cork boards before heading out into the night to their respective homes.


Four days later the cork boards were very close to being full and they had raised close to $1,200 dollars.  It would seem this little exercise had become quite a hit with customers.  Dennis had made up envelopes with each day’s donation amount noted on the outside before sealing it and putting in the safe.  He had asked the staff to come up with some local charities by week’s end.

A warm ambiance had taken hold and everyone seemed just a little more festive and this became increasingly evident as the week progressed.  Dennis found himself coming in a little early each day to read some of the napkins.  Some wrote brief stories, some wrote just one word.  There were poems as well.  Some of the writings were sad, others funny but all were heartwarming in some manner.

There was an intimacy that was being shared and with it came an odd camaraderie of sorts.

A reporter from The Province newspaper had been in earlier for lunch and had later returned to take a few pictures.  Dennis was really surprised actually at just how successful this had been and it had most definitely boosted business as well.

Friday morning Dennis got up and headed down to the restaurant.  He stopped and got his coffee and it was then that he saw the front page of The Province.

“A Christmas Saga Is Unfolding At Steamworks” was written bodly above a photo of one of the cork board’s with the tree in the background.

Dennis purchased the paper then took his coffee and read the article.

A strange odyssey began at Steamwork’s Restaurant on Monday.  A customer had left a napkin with a poem written inside the fold on Saturday afternoon (see below).  Two employees came up with an idea to involve patrons of the restaurant and raise funds for local charities while they were at it.  The result has been rather amazing.  Participation has been rampant.  While I was dining there yesterday I found the atmosphere regarding this activity infectious and found myself jotting a thought or two between a napkin’s fold. 

After posting my napkin and making a donation, I read a few of the others that were posted.  Many entries were incredibly touching and some were very funny.  I could well have stayed at length to read more had time and space been permitting.

Christmas spirit is what you’ll find if you get the opportunity to stop by. Happy holidays to you all.”

Below this brief summation was a photo of the banner which had the original poem written on it.

Dennis finished his coffee and smiled.  He tucked the paper under his arm to show his staff later on.  They were having their staff celebration at the end of tonight’s shift.  This year he felt it would be a particularly good one.

As a result of the newspaper article, the restaurant had its busiest day on record.  Christmas spirit had gone viral.