Saturday night kicked off our party week.
About 16 of us gathered at a neighbor's house to drink in the camaraderie and good cheer. The excuse was an Ugly Christmas Sweater party, but neither Kim nor I had an ugly sweater — actually, neither did about 10 others —but that little exception to the whole purpose of the party didn't disqualify us from attending. Or being allowed in the door.
Kim, usually calm and dignified, wore an item that made her look like she had been shot in the head with a candy cane arrow. She was Steve Martin on peppermint.
Small parties like this one are fun to watch. The dynamics are constantly changing: First, people collect in small knots around the buffet table, sampling the goodies. Then they spin off into conversation cliques (a couple here might catch up with a couple there, especially if they haven't seen each other in a while) to share some time. Occasionally, someone wanders around from room to room in the house, popping sausage balls and pretzels, looking for someone to talk to.
At one point I was aimlessly wandering around after hitting the buffet table to reload on Chex mix when I passed one room where all the men had gathered. Then I (being the outlier) peeked in the kitchen where all the women had assembled. It just happened that way. Amazing. It was as if we'd all received our internal alien messages to gather in separate rooms for gender processing.
Even more amazing was when we — without announcement — all showed up in the living room later in the evening. Happenstance? I don't know. But the best part was when the hostess pointed out that, at this stage in most of our lives, our friends are our family. My throat clenched, my eyes moistened, Kim grabbed my arm a little tighter. I think our hostess was right. I like Christmas parties like this with its understated message. It's when the not-so-obvious suddenly becomes obvious. That was cool.
On Monday Kim and I will be going to a local coffee shop for another party. This one is usually a catered affair primarily for the coffee club crowd that shows up most every morning. Generally, this is an older crowd where most of us are in our 70s or 80s. Or older. We get to let our hair down (if we have any). We'll basically have only one room to wander around in and we'll hear lots of stories about the good ol' days. It'll be local history broadcast live.
Later in the week we'll be attending the neighborhood party. I suspect there'll be something like 50-60 people at this one. I like this party because we each bring something to eat. It's a pot luck deal and the food tends to be exceptional, ranging from handmade cookies to cheese balls to ham biscuits to fancy hors d'oeuvres with fine wines and craft beers.
I don't think Kim will be wearing a candy cane arrow to this one.