Youth and adults are invited to come enjoy food, music, fellowship, and stories of Christmas! Drop in anytime between 5:30-8pm. St. John’s and Holy Apostles’ own Top Chefs will be serving small plates/hearty appetizers. Guests will sample at each station and can mingle with others at tables. Vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free choices will be available.
Bring a favorite dessert to share. A free will donation is not required but is gratefully accepted.
If you have questions, email Becky Garthofner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Story of the Christmas Party
by the Rev. Barbara Mraz
Some wine, some brews, chefs in white coats offering their specialties, a five-foot table of desserts! Sounds great.
Except when it isn’t.
Several years ago the Christmas party was a sit-down dinner with white tablecloths on round tables placed throughout the gym. There were twinkling lights, a huge tree, women in sparkly garb. Some men were wearing red and green sweaters with pine trees and snowflakes.
We had invited people from Holy Apostles (our “companion parish”) to be our guests. About ten showed up, along with their rector Leatha. Arriving early with smiles on their faces, they chose seats at a side rectangular table, most of them sitting in a row on one side, facing the action.
As the tables filled up, people looked for their friends and saved seats for a them at their table. Others tentatively sat down with people they didn’t know. The wine was poured and the room was filled with the sounds of people talking, laughing and waiting for the prime rib to be served.
I Iooked over at the Holy Apostles table and winced. There were at least eight empty seats in a row at the table. No one from St. Johns’ had ventured over to foreign territory. It was a party, right?
Three of us left our tables and joined the Hmong guests. They smiled and greeted us.
I won’t lie and tell you it was easy because it wasn’t. The language barrier was big but we managed. Those who spoke English answered our questions. We heard accounts of taking the bus at five a.m. to work in a food processing plant, of coming to this country from Laos. We heard about their previous rector Bill, who had donated a kidney to a Hmong man who needed one. It was hard work but we pointed at things when we didn’t know the words, had some laughs, and heard some good stories.
No matter the setting or the dress code there will always be someone standing alone, off to the side, trying to look happy. There will be an unpartnered person in a sea of coupes or an older person whose friends aren’t there. People feeling like wallflowers at a junior high dance. There will be those present for whom holidays are hell but they’re trying.
I’ve found these people are often the ones most receptive to our muddled attempts to be friendly, most willing to search out the common ground between us and laugh at our stupid jokes.
And there have been parties in my own life when I’ve been the one standing off to the side. Thank you to everyone who joined me there.