Each and every year the holidays present a time to gather, to give and to share with those we love and care about. After the gift wrap is crumpled up and thrown away – after the New Year’s hats and horns are forgotten – you are usually a little brain dead and exhausted. One year shortly after Christmas, I decided I needed to open my home and invite ‘the girls’ over. I called it…
‘Thank goodness the holidays are over!’
Here were the rules sent in the invite;
* Bring anything you have that is a left over… with crumpled foil and all. (I guessed that appetizers and cookies would probably be the menu at hand.)
* Come in anything comfortable… sweat shirts and pants, slippers and non-Christmas worn sweaters are acceptable.
*Because of the massive need at the food banks, please bring a can or box of food. They will be taken to the appropriate distribution center.
The fireplace was lit, non-holiday music was playing and they all showed up ready for a night of relaxation and laughter. As they brought their leftovers, some with a drip down the side of the bowl, some with dried sauce on the rim… we were beginning to see the makings of a great meal. From the remains of a cheese ball to Meatballs, from gourmet dips to vegetable dishes … everyone was enjoying the specialties from the tables of others. The food was yummy. Some even copied down recipes for their favorite dish on hand, filing it away for next year.
No one cared what they wore or how they presented the dish of choice. The left over Christmas paper plates and napkins were a variety of designs and sizes. Several plopped themselves onto the floor near the fire and just enjoyed the friendships and a cup of hot apple cider or a glass of wine. Conversations centered around how fortunate we are. Eventually the topics also led into how hard this time of the year is for many we know and love. Many are lonely, sick, struggling in finances and/or relationships. The reality that these celebrations can be a time bomb for them became clear. The realities of these issues were shared through stories of those we knew. These examples of people we cared about only magnified how fortunate we were.
Helping through the small gesture of the contributions that we brought along that evening began to feel insignificant. However, in the end, several grocery bags of food had been gathered, much more than I had expected. Even though we knew the collected food wouldn’t be prepared with the loving touch of all of our leftovers from that evening, and it didn’t solve the problem of world hunger, they were given with the warmest of intentions.
Yes, ‘thank goodness the holidays were over’. By the end of the season we are often burned out on the same music playing, the Christmas sweater you have worn too often and the same old food that you have eaten for two weeks. It is a welcome moment to be done with all of that, but turning that sense of relief into action was helping us all to finish the precious season on an ‘up’ note.
In this New Year, possibly you can call a few people after ‘the holidays are over’, light a candle or your fireplace and share the food we are so fortunate to have. Or, possibly you can call that lonely loved one and simply reach out to fill their heart with your words of support. The need is great and the gesture is an easy one.
May 2011 be filled with good health, the comfort of one that wards off the loneliness and the sense of peace that we all pray for.
Happy New Year and God go with you all!