My email notification alerted me with a soft ding. I opened the incoming message.
The Johnson’s party is Saturday night. You’re invited. We can’t miss THE party of the season. Besides, you know Miriam’s lobster canapés are to die for. Bud Freeman is planning his annual Christmas party, too. Sardine dip again. Let’s skip that one.
Hitting forward, I sent it on to the rest of my senior ladies prayer group, adding a postscript to my best friend, Ellen.
Ellen, I overheard Leah in the drug store the other day. She says they are having a party next week. You know how fantastic her cheesecake is. See if you can finagle an invitation for us. Beg if you have to. You know her better than I do. Also, I got an invite for two to Claudia’s shindig. She’s the tamale maker. I’ll do my part and you do yours. Evil grin.
I heard the ding again and read the new message.
I lucked out hooking up with you gals. Who else would have thought to keep each other informed by email of the parties with best food? Rich desserts, here we come! See you at the Johnson‘s.
And how do we get out of going to Bud’s? He sure comes up with some weird concoctions.
Five days later, I was primping before going to the Johnson’s party. Ellen let herself in.
“Yep, I’m ready.”
We left my apartment, anticipating all the scrumptious food we would get to eat. The Johnsons’ home was a confection in itself. Every corner sparkled with holiday glitz and the huge tree in their family room was frosted with delicate angels and satin ribbons. Tiny white lights twinkled from deep within the branches.
The masterpiece was the loaded buffet table in the center of the room, lit with softly glowing candles. A red tablecloth made a cheery backdrop for the expected tasty dishes, as well as for a few new ones.
Ellen’s eyes were huge. “Look at that.” She was staring at a luscious looking Yule log. “It’s too pretty to cut.”
“No it isn’t. “ I sliced off a piece and tasted. “Heaven.”
Bea, Nancy, and the rest of our prayer group were there as well, piling their plates full. Nancy gave me a conspiratorial wink.
Somebody came up behind me and covered my eyes. “Guess who?”
I turned and faced Bud. “Oh, hi.”
“Hi. I’m counting on you and the rest of your prayer group to be at my get together tomorrow. You’ll be there, won’t you?”
I looked around for Ellen to rescue me. She had conveniently walked off. “I’m not sure.”
Bud’s smile tightened. “Oh?”
“Yes, I have this thing to do. It’s umm, important.”
He looked at me questioningly.
I felt my face flush. “But I think I can change my plans. I’ll be there.”
“Great. See you then.”
By the end of the evening, I had convinced my prayer group to show up at Bud’s. Actually, saying I had coerced them would be more accurate.
Ellen picked me up the next evening and we went to Bud’s.
Both Bud and an unpleasant smell greeted us at his door. “Looks like you’re the last two to arrive.” He nodded toward the rickety card table he had set up. “I bought some Limburger cheese just for this party.“ There was no tree. The only hint of Christmas was a small Nativity scene on an end table.
Bud tapped a spoon on the side of a cheap jelly glass. “Attention, please.”
The buzzing quieted. “I just want you all to know how much I look forward to this every year. I’m blessed to have real friends like you. I’m not the best cook in the world, but you folks don’t seem to mind.” He pointed to the manger scene. “You come anyway to celebrate Jesus with me. That’s what Christmas is really all about. Thank you for that, and thank you for loving me.” He wiped his eyes and honked into a hanky he pulled from his pocket, then gestured to the food. “Please, enjoy.”
Ellen whispered. “Maybe it’s not all about the food.”
I whispered back. “Not here it isn‘t.”
We blessed the food and filled our plates. I was brave enough to put sardine dip on mine, but in case I couldn’t eat it, I added my own prayer.“Please, Lord, send a cat.”
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