This past Saturday night, 40 people gathered in the fellowship hall of Calvin CRC for our annual Christmas party. This event began several years ago as a way to gather together younger couples and couples with young children for a time of celebration of Christ's Birth, and fellowship. It has now evolved into an open invitation to anyone over the age of 16 years to come out.
The evening was once again lots of fun.
Below are some pictures, which I'll comment on in the form of a pictoral narrative.
Enjoy. : )
The evening begins at 5:00 pm. Doug, Louise, and myself took some time to set up the fellowship hall to set the mood. Soft lighting and proper presentation are very important to set the tone as soon as guests arrive. Above is the end result of our creative minds. I thought it turned out pretty nice, if I do say so myself (oh, yeah, I just did: ) )
Here is a more panoramic view of the fellowship hall just before the guests arrive. What you can't hear is the soft Christmas music being piped in. Take a moment and imaging before you move on.
As people arrived, they were invited to partake of coffee, hot apple cider, or punch.
One of our members, Bonnie, decided to bring along these cute deer antlers. Louise modeled them for us.
Leo is quite a card. Each year he wears this beautiful Christmas tie.
I keep wondering where he keeps the batteries to light it up.
Some of "the boys" gather together and compare the weeks events.
Once gathered together, I opened with a reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2, prayed, and then we ate. There was LOTS of GREAT food. A diverse menu from different cultural backgrounds. I tried a bit of pretty much everything. Yummy !!
There was so much choice, for some it was very hard to decide. Bonnie, our resident joker, just couldn't figure out what else to take. Hey, where'd
the antlers go?
One of the goals of a time like this (if there are actually goals to be had) is to fellowship together. Nothing does that better than gathering around a table with food.
After filling up on the main course, we took some time to digest before dessert was presented. We began with singing some good old Christmas Carols together. All done accapella
. It sounded very good. In honor of some of our senior guests present, we ended with the Dutch Hymn "Ere Zij
We then moved on to a "fun" activity. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about how it would turn out based on last year. You see, last year I presented a "Christmas IQ Test." Thirty multiple choice questions based on the facts of the biblical narrative. Nothing to tricky, but designed to show us how much we read into the Christmas story. It proved to be a "lively" time to say the least. Theological debates sprang up at various tables, and I thought my job might be in jeopardy (well, not really : ) ) .
This year, I thought I'd do something a little less controversial. A simple one pager with letters on it that represented the first words of popular Christmas Carols/Songs. Simply figure out what the letters were for the titles of the songs. Sounded simple enough........
Not with a Calvin CRC crowd! As I went through the songs with them, people began to realize that some of the carols were not necessarily from their hymnbook. They were simply popular carols. That got some of them going! They couldn't get those titles because they couldn't think of anything, and as you know this drives the more competitive ones crazy. I pointed them to the instructions which did notify them that the titles could be carols or popular songs. Many didn't even read the instructions.......go figure!!! : )
The first picture above is myself explaining what to do. The second is some of the group intensely figuring out the answers. Lots of dialogue and debate, which was fun to watch.
Since we expended SO MUCH energy on that game, people were now ready for dessert. Out came great dessert creations. The one I liked the best was a caramel pumpkin pie. An experiment by Margaret. It was REALLY good, as were the other sugar filled creations.
Finally, we came to the part of the evening that I actually like the best. The gift exchange. I love it because it's one of the few times I get to witness grown adults revert back to their childhood years of "mine, mine" or cheating.
We each brought a wrapped gift of no more than $5. We gathered in a circle and prepared to begin....but let me back up a bit to give you the context of how the game actually played out. It seems that living in a Gov't town does rub off on people. As we were cleaning up from dessert, and I began to get people prepared for the gift exchange, there were some back room discussions going on regarding the rules.
If you've ever done a gift exchange game, you know that there are about 25 different ways to do it. Some use cards to pick people, others don't. Some have you unwrap the gifts as you go along, others let you wait until the end. Well, I had decided that this year we'd begin with one person, and that person just keeps that gift, wrapped. The next person has the choice to take the gift of the first, or pick from the pile. This would go on until all had a gift. Then one last exchange for anyone wanting one, end you would then unwrap your gift. Simply enough, eh. !
Not in Ottawa : ) . Bonnie called me over, backed by 4 others of the group. I called this, the Calvin ambush event! : ) They wanted to suggest another "option" for the game. Instead of keeping the gifts wrapped, could we unwrap the gifts? Well, I pondered this option for the moment, and then decided to have some fun with this, just as they were doing with me.
I suggested to them that this was MY party, and that I wanted to do things MY way for this game and would that be ok? I received some blank stares, and then they began to do some more back room discussing. As they did that, my heart softened and I realized that as the Youth Pastor of the church I also needed to appeal to the youthfulness that was being presented by several present who were, well, let's just say, past their youthful years by a bit. (tee, hee).
They came back to me and said they were ok with my demand, but I could tell they REALLY wanted to have the gifts opened first. I relented, and gracefully accepted their initial offer.
Now, on with the game !!!
Here you see Jan getting ready to pick a gift. He was one of the older members who came. It was nice to see a span in age at this event. It is always my desire to see the generations mingle. Ministry isn't always about separating out different groups in a ministry context, though that is appropriate at times. We can all learn and grow from each other and events like this allow for that to happen. It's just not always easy getting the different ages to engage, but I love a challenge. :)
As the gifts began to be unwrapped, it became evident that chocolate was the predominant gift of choice. Note to self: Suggest NO chocolate for next year, and see what other creative gifts begin to pop up.
Here Cheryl gets ready to pick a gift.
A couple of notes about Cheryl (forgive me Cheryl, but you give me so much material to use : ) )
As we began the game I had another thought. Just to get at those who tried to sabotage my original rules I decided to change up the rules from time to time at the beginning. This really caught Cheryl off guard. "WAIT, JUST WAIT A MINUTE!" were the words I soon heard. "So, what EXACTLY are the rules anyway!" I was trying not to laugh out loud as I redid the rules on the fly. Take comfort Cheryl that both Bonnie and Margaret also struggled with the subtle rule changes that occurred out of nowhere.
Cheryl also got a really cool gift, at first. A tape measure. Seems her kids were using her old one as a ramp for marbles, and it broke. (It also seems that they taught my kids this little game and now I'm down a tape measure : ( )
She lost that tape measure several times during the game, and hammed it up quite well that she really wanted that thing back. Though she didn't have it at the end, the true Spirit of giving showed up that night, and someone gave it to her anyway.
You can tell that Irene was REALLY enjoying the part of the game that allowed you to steal from someone else. Not exactly the true spirit of Christmas, eh, but thankfully, we live by grace! : )
Annette made two lovely flower arrangements. They were a very popular item. My wife kept losing hers, but strategically gained it back again. Keith, pictured in the foreground, had a very difficult night. Pretty much EVERY gift he obtained, he lost. I think he was pilfered from at least 15 times. He took it well.
Some gifts were wrapped way to well. This one being unwrapped by Gerry had a ribbon that was very tight, and very unbreakable. Gerry ended up getting creative, taking the wrapping off, leaving the ribbon on.
In the end, we all had lots of fun and fellowship, which were the primary goals for this Christmas Party. This picture of Leo and Echo symbolizes the many friendships that exist within our church community. For that I am forever grateful. We may not always agree on everything as a community, but there are many deep friendships that continue to grow, and new ones are always developing through fellowship times like these. In all of it, we give God the glory and celebrate the gift of community he has blessed us with.
If you missed the party this time around, there is always next year. We'd love to see you come out and enjoy an evening together as the Calvin Church Community.