Christmas cheer in January is a special treat when women come to our church and are served a Christmas dinner. It is a traditional meal of turkey, real mashed potatoes with homemade turkey gravy, baked southern corn pudding, green beans, congealed salad, freshly baked homemade rolls, and apple or pumpkin pie capped with ice cream or cool whip. Topped with a cup of coffee served in a cheerful Christmas mug, the evening is complete as we make introductions. listen to the Christmas story, and sing carols together.
For eleven Januaries, our church has hosted a Christmas dinner for widows and friends. After the hustle of the Christmas season, winter settles in. Temperatures drop, and women tend to want to stay indoors, watching weather forecasts and keeping pipes from freezing. The days are long, and the nights are lonely.
The idea for this annual gathering was born when the John Glick family from Ohio shared during a service at church that they serve a dinner to widows in their community every year. Many of us didn’t have space in our homes to host neighborhood widows, but we had space in our fellowship hall and room in our hearts. With everyone working together, we had plenty of man- and womanpower.
Each year, there are women in the kitchen baking rolls while others fill water glasses or put salad on the tables. Soon there will be folks at the door greeting the women as they arrive, and there is camaraderie as we work together, knowing that our guests are excited about coming to our table. We’ll help them find their places at the table next to those of us who extended the invitation to them.
Sometimes what we are unable to do in our own homes can be done in a larger group. There are many hands to help with the work. Men set up tables and chairs and help provide transportation for women who don’t want to drive after dark. Women sign up for food items to contribute, and youth and young adults serve the meal.
The holiday season can be a painful time for families who have lost loved ones. Especially difficult is this season for people who have few or no family members living near them. It’s hard to celebrate Christmas when there are no children who can come home, no grandchildren who can visit, and no spouse to share the cold, wintry days.
Our guests tell us that looking forward to this January meal is a highlight of their December. Indeed, by summer, they’re asking us if we’re going to do it again! Most of them arrive at least thirty minutes early in anticipation, and our pastor is at the door to welcome them while others assist them with their coats. Several have told us that they begin getting dressed in the morning for the 5 o’clock pm meal! And yearly, there are faces absent from the previous year. Sometimes it is because of illness. And sometimes, it’s because, in Heaven, you’re not lonely anymore.
So what do you think? Is this something you could do with your family or your church?