This was a somewhat rainy day and a Monday, but with a little work and a lot of fun, nothing to get me down

Monday was a pretty cool day — and I don’t mean the weather. It was a long one that started when I woke at 6:20 a.m., drove an hour and a half to take our youngest to school (the same commute from SW Arlington to Richardson that Kay makes most mornings), then went to work. It ended with me getting home at nearly 9 p.m.

But as you can see from these photos, even though I did have to do some work, a lot of fun was involved too.

I don’t usually go into the office on Mondays, but with two holiday gatherings scheduled, most of our Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs team at UT Southwestern Medical Center came to hang out in our sixth-floor digs at Pegasus Plaza. Most (some?) of us did a couple of hours of work before kicking off a two-plus-hour party at 11:30 that included pizza from legendary Dallas eatery Campisi’s, a White Elephant gift exchange that topped 60 gifts, and an ugly holiday sweater competition won by Justin (whom I don’t know), the guy wearing the colorful Christmas tree on the front row of the group photo I shot. (No, I didn’t wear an ugly sweater because I don’t have one!).

And the winner is … the green Christmas tree guy who, when I saw him after I arrived at work, I told him, “I think we’ve got a winner.”

We all had a blast and I saw a lot of faces and heard a bunch of names I wasn’t familiar with. Over 100 people make up the CMPA team, so it was nice to see so many of us together to celebrate the holidays and one another.

After we got a little more work done, there was another gathering at 3:30 on the first floor of Pegasus as the larger team we’re a part of, called Institutional Advancement — which also includes Development & Alumni Relations, Government Affairs, Community and Corporate Relations, and Technology Development — met to hear about some of this year’s major achievements and, for the many newcomers like me, the roles of each area. When that ended, there was a mix-and-mingle with delicious eats and drinks.

About 5:30, I dashed back upstairs to gather my stuff so I could hit the road for the hour’s drive to Fort Worth, where I planned to have dinner with my buddies Dr. Jeff Rubinett and Milt Collins at Mi Cocina in beautiful Sundance Square downtown.

I first met Jeff, who’s a veterinarian, couldn’t love people and his vocation more, is an Aggie like me and a hell of a nice guy, and Milt, who also fits the latter description, at a Rangers-Astros game seven years ago (I think) — and I can’t believe it’s been that long. We hadn’t seen each other since three years this month, when we had dinner at the same restaurant, joined by my dear wife Kay, just a couple of months before the pandemic changed our world forever.

Scenes from Fort Worth’s beautiful Sundance Square Plaza. In the photo of us guys, from left, it’s Jeff, Milt and yours truly.

The three of us enjoyed a wonderful dinner Monday, along with plenty of banter about life, baseball, our occupations, our families and more for about an hour and a half.

Then we wandered just down Main Street on the cool, wet evening to take in Fort Worth’s majestic Christmas tree on light-filled Sundance Square Plaza, along with the nearby 216 fountain jets that shoot water up to 6 feet high, the massive Chisholm Trail mural, and the Nativity scene perched in a niche on the back side of The Westbrook. It’s an office building that looks classically old but was built in 2013 and designed by David Schwarz — the architect who did the old Ballpark in Arlington (which I loved and miss so much), American Airlines Center in Dallas and many other well-known sites around the U.S. The plaza is Jeff’s happy place — he loves to hang out there and does so often.

All in all, a fantastic, memorable day. When I got home, I showed Kay the Christmas tree photos and said we’ve got to take the kids there soon. If you live in the Fort Worth area, it’s definitely worth the visit! Happy holidays to all! 🎄🎅

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