Candle alone

Creating a new holiday tradition: connection

The holiday tradition I want begin is connection.

The holidays are here. Four words that pull up so many different emotions for people.  For us, Christmas has almost never been on the 24th or 25th because of my husband’s work.  We have always adjusted our celebration.  

This year, my husband was home, but I have two adult children with their own lives and plans.  One has work another wants to go to his girlfriend’s family for the holiday.  I realized that even as a couple you can be ‘alone’ on Christmas.

My husband suggested I have a get together on Christmas Day. This is out of my comfort zone.  I love people. I love get togethers.  I am not a big fan of throwing the event; I always feel a level of inadequacy. While I am thinking about relationships and people, I worry the people are thinking about my food choices (that is a land mine in today’s day and age) or lack of house keeping skills.  

I did it.  I took the plunge.  I sent out over 35 cards to neighbors, people at church, people at the pilates studio where I work out and some people on my email list. It is a gathering from 2:00 – 5:00 on Christmas Day, promising only food, fun and company. I am putting out a meat and cheese tray with fruits and my special homemade ginger snap cookies. No fuss.  The fun is underneath my tree is bare.  Everyone is to bring a white elephant gift.  I did specify that this white elephant party is a gift you would want under $20.  

The reaction I got really surprised me.  I was embarrassed by the whole thing.  I personally went to each neighbor, knocked on the door and handed them the card.  Many neighbors I did not know and I actually had to address the card with “Howdy Neighbor.” Yikes.  I learned a brand new couple moved in from Las Vegas a week ago. I have a handyman and I invited him.  He works at the mines and does the handyman job on the side.  He is super friendly so I thought for sure he would have plans, but I figured I would send the invite. It turns out he had no plans.  

Christmas Candles

I have had ten people say they are coming.  Three of them were so excited that they they said yes before they even opened the card!  Do you know what happened that I never saw coming?  Almost everyone responded, even those who are not coming.  In today’s world getting any kind of RSVP is next to pulling teeth.  Four of the houses responded with a message similar to: Oh, we made plans with “so-and-so” because we did not have anything to look forward to.  We would much rather do this; it sounds like so much fun. I do hope this is going to be a yearly tradition. Let us know if we can count on it next year.”

Next year?! I am still working out the last possible time I should sweep and mop the floor to get rid of dog hair and yet not feel panicked about the event on Saturday.  Planning a “real” event sounds like such a bigger deal than a last minute “get together” where maybe I will be forgiven for any lapses?  And yet, I find myself looking forward to Saturday.  I find that I am excited by the new relationships with my neighbors.  I have hope in a way I did not three weeks ago.

I am not ready to commit to next year, but I am definitely considering it.  First I want to see how this one goes.  I am considering a monthly neighborhood coffee.  I can handle a coffee gathering.  People don’t expect a lot from a hostess for a coffee get together, right? Then I think I could have it all, an event without it being a “big deal,” something to look forward to and most importantly connection.

Kara Peterson

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