Tomorrow is the first day of Advent, and I’ll be singing two anthems (at two different churches), so I’m giving you one of them today: “Comfort, Comfort Ye, My People.” We sing this with a sprightly, lilting rhythm, and I have steel drums playing along in the back of my mind. I have sung this song in many places, but none has ever had steel drums. I live in hope.

Yesterday, #2 daughter and I went up to the shopping center in the Next County to visit #1 daughter, who is managing a store for the Christmas shopping season. I miss her a lot in the business, and she says that we did in fact invoice more when she was working with me, which I guess had been in question. I started my business in 2008 as something to keep body and soul together while job hunting. In 2009, having turned down all the jobs I was offered, I settled into being a freelance web writer. In 2010, having sent out half a dozen 1099s when I was supposed to be working freelance, I admitted to owning a business and started trying to be more businesslike, and also brought #2 daughter on more or less full time for a part of the year. In 2011, we plan to solidify our existence as a business. We’re changing the name, joining the chamber, updating the website, raising prices, stuff like that.

So today we’re holding a business meeting to work out the details of our transition. This meeting will take place at the local bakery as soon as the girls wake up.

Then #1 daughter has to go back to work at the store. She has to deal with difficult workers. This is not her imagination. When we went to visit her, we called first to ask whether she could come to lunch or bring her something. The difficult one answered the phone and we had this conversation:

“Hi. Can I speak with #1 daughter?”
“She’s with a customer. Can I help?”
“No, thanks.”

She described this to #1 daughter as my being rude. She also complains continually about her coworkers and has, in the two weeks they’ve been there, burst into tears at work three times. My total contact with her, counting the phone conversation, added up to about 2.5 minutes, and I could tell she was a whiner before #1 daughter told me so.

The girls and I, as we ate our turkey shepherd’s pie and leftover squash casserole later that evening, took the opportunity to rant a bit about Circles.

Quick: without thinking about it much, pick a shape. Write it down before you read further.

If you chose a circle, you are a friendly, outgoing person. You like to talk and you remember things about people. You feel hurt if people don’t make small talk with you, and you’re good with people.

If you chose a square, you are a competent and organized person. You like rules and systems. You feel upset if people don’t follow the rules and systems, and you’re good with facts.

If you chose the triangle, you’re a natural leader. You like to be in charge and to be the center of attention. You get upset if you’re not allowed to be the leader, and you’re good at getting things done.

If you chose the squiggle, you’re a creative person. You like variety and new ideas. You get upset if people don’t give you credit for your ideas, and you’re good at solving problems and coming up with innovations.

Yeah, totally unscientific.

Anyway, I’m a Squiggle, #1 daughter is a Square, and #2 daughter is a Triangle. We know that we need a Circle, but we also know that as non-Circles, we can find Circles tiring. They want to interact all the time, and they expect you to be friendly all the time, even when you’re working. If they’re bad Circles, they like drama and enjoy having a constantly changing landscape of complex human relationships.

Now, some of our best friends are circles. I can think of several whom I really love and enjoy, and with whom I’ve worked well. But you can’t tell ahead of time, can you?

So we were thinking that we could get two of them, “like gerbils,” as #1 daughter put it, so that they could talk to each other when we were busy with our rules and systems, empire building, or new ideas, as the case might be. That way, we thought, they wouldn’t be hurt by our unfriendliness and emotional unavailability.

#1 daughter’s experience at the store made her think that this might not work. The shifting alliances and excessive closeness followed by fallings out and desires to talk about one another that characterize Circle relationships could, she felt, be even more disruptive to our systems than our having to remember to be friendly.

We’re all going to be relieved when #1 daughter returns to work with the Firm.