The girls said: “We probably can’t do a cookie exchange this year.” Susan said: “Hold my beer.” No, wait, it was “Hold my champagne.”
Susan opened both her front and back doors, lit a fire in her fireplace and set her beautiful dining room table with a lovely appetizer, warm apple cider (with a choice of things with which to spike it), champagne for a toast to 2021, and a little tree adorned with book club ornaments from years past. We put eleven large reusable shopping totes (one for each member) on her enclosed front porch and all of the girls came prepared with their cookie offerings already bagged to drop into the totes. We kept our coats on, socially distanced and we wore our masks except for when we sipped our cider or champagne. It was lovely. I passed out the Christmas ornaments for 2020, embroidery hoops, which my talented daughter, Frances filled with a bird image and a phrase from a Christmas song that substituted a bird name for a lyric such as “Now we don our jay apparel”, “Let it Crow”, and “Owl be home for Christmas”. Susan purchased a lovely cake for Melissa’s birthday which we didn’t think to consume until after Melissa had already left to get on the road to Indiana. I do have a picture of the cake, well, I have a picture of my slice of the cake! I had to show Melissa what she had missed.
After the short gathering there was a flurry of emails. Chris said: “Just wanted to say thank you for a really nice gathering yesterday. Susan, I hope your beautiful home warmed up not long after we left. Everything was so pretty and festive, and the drinks and snacks were wonderful. Thanks to all for the Christmas spirit and the delicious cookies! And Fran (please pass this on, Teresa), your ornaments are really gorgeous. Thank you so much for your contribution. Also, I couldn’t stop looking at those fantastic boots. What a great look with your black coat! This gathering made my holiday. There really aren’t going to be any others except an occasional huddle around someone’s fire pit, so it meant a lot to me.”
Sharon wrote: “I agree with Chris. Susan, your event was just what I needed for this Christmas Season. I think we will all look back at this as being a very perfect Christmas cookie exchange in spite of this years drama. Thanks to everyone for their cookies too. It’s hard to pick a favorite. I only have a few cookies left and I’ve made my distribution stops. For those interested, I’ve given most of my cookies to the 18th Precinct Police Department. If you can’t make it to Geri’s to add to her shelter donation, I’m sure your local police district or fire stations will be very accepting. I know mine was.”
Mary added: “It was the best. I am thankful to everyone who was there and especially to Susan. Your home was so resplendent in festive attire that it put me in the Christmas mood. And thank you to Fran. You are following in Mom’s footsteps.”
Well, I was going to stop with those three, but I’m going to add them all. You can tell how thankful we were to have a tiny bit of normal.
Rosalie: “I really enjoyed it, too, and Fran’s ornament look just perfect where it’s hanging— in my kitchen as I pack some of these yummy and good/looking cookies for my neighbors in the building! Thanks, Susan, for your gracious and creative hospitality! Blessed advent and Merry Christmas to all!”
Geri: “Ditto to the comments before this. It finally felt like Xmas. Susan, everything was perfectly warm and festive. The cider with a dab of rum hit the spot. Thank you. Teresa, the cookies and references to the books were superb. Fran’s ornaments were outstanding. The only thing that could have topped the afternoon was if you had brought vaccines for everyone.( I wouldn’t have been surprised.)Merry Xmas and Happy Hanukkah everyone!”
Linda: “Well said everyone! Saturday afternoon was a wonderful respite in this very strange time. Once I got home and had a chance to look through my bag I was very impressed with the baking, decorating and creative skills of this group. I have already begun distributing the cookies to grateful family and friends! Thanks to all. And special thanks to Susan for hosting us in her beautiful home with delicious food and drink. It almost seemed like normal.“
Melissa: “Linda said it wonderfully. It was wonderful.“
If Susan ever needs any references for her Christmas spirit and hospitality, she can direct inquiries here.