Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Holiday cheer

Last night was the annual town Christmas party. When you only have 415 residents, you can invite everyone for mini pigs-in-blankets and chicken wings and get away with it.

Last time we were able to attend was three years ago. I remember curling my hair by generator power, in the glow of a flashlight beam. We hadn't finished the wiring or had the heating system installed yet. What a difference three years makes!

Until now, we have unfortunately failed to cultivate a social life around here--I don't know why, but that's how it has happened. We have been kind of reclusive, to put it bluntly. So I went to this party with two important goals in mind: to be friendly with the few people I had met in the past, and to meet new people.

I accomplished both. I gave a big kiss to Cookie, the well-dressed elderly lady from two doors down (recently widowed twice in quick succession, poor thing, and the second one was news to me--now that I know she is alone again, I need to make extra sure to go visit her). And I took a leap of faith and promised to call the mayor's daughter (whom I like a lot) for a cup of coffee.

I met a fiesty, funny 60-something gardening buff named Lucille, who says she will come visit me after the holidays. If she doesn't come to me, I'll go to her! And I was introduced to...wait for it...THE COUPLE WHO OWN THE HORSES ACROSS THE STREET. I don't know how, but I spotted them the moment they walked in the door and told the s.o. I intended to meet them. They just radiated "my kind of people-ness."

Our new hoophouse was literally the talk of the town. The s.o. was constantly having to answer questions about it. "Whatcha gonna put in that greenhouse?" "I noticed you had a greenhouse--did you build that?" etc.

Everyone who attended got raffle tickets. The under-16s got one kind of ticket and the adults got another. Some of the adults came away with door prizes--I won a poinsettia, and I think I may actually have said "Woo hoo!" when my number was called--and four lucky folks won cash prizes to help them through the holidays. But what was really excellent was that every single child in the room won either a football, a basketball, or a soccer ball. The room came alive with bouncing, passing, and tackling.

"What a wonderful thing to do," I stage-whispered to the mayor's daughter.

"For some of them, it's the only present they'll get this Christmas," she stage-whispered back.

And that's why, even though we live in such a desperately poor county, the town council votes every year to throw a party for any of its citizens who want to come.

I really do love it here.