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O Come, All Ye Faithful

Some decades ago in my life (likely in the mid 1990s-ish), I received an invitation to a somewhat fancy event down in Northeast D.C. for some purpose and cause about which I have no specific memory. The person who invited me to this somewhat fancy event, Susan Gore, was deeply involved in academia and Women’s Studies, gender parity, LGBTQ issues and the like, so the event was probably hovering around something in that realm.

I had met Susan as a college freshman and had worked/volunteered/done mostly boring, grunt office work for her as the Executive Director of the National Women’s Studies Association, which may sound slightly fancy but wasn’t. This “national” organization, founded in 1997 (it was 1981 when I worked with Susan) consisted of 1) her as the E.D., 2) me as the part-time volunteer grunt-labor, young and inexperienced as I was and 3) a board, some advisors and some committee members for various and sundry missions aligned with the organization’s goals of promoting the then very new academic field of Women’s Studies.

Susan had been kind and helpful to me when I had worked for her, but Linkedin wasn’t even a concept then and keeping in touch with people required more work and effort, so when I got the invitation to join her, I RSVPed yes. I hadn’t seen her in almost a decade, and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to catch up a little, so off I trotted into D.C.

It was around this time of year–the Winter Solstice. Christmas-time. A light dusting of snow was falling.

I don’t recall much of anything about the event, but I do recall there was a lot of really good food–like really good–and either they’d ordered too much or maybe people hadn’t eaten much, but, regardless of the reason, there was a lot of leftover food.

Susan had invited me to come back to her place and hang out a bit afterward, which I was happy to do, and as the evening came to a close, I helped pack up the extra food and carry the many trays and containers to her car. After she’d said all her goodbyes, we headed to her home nearby in the somewhat fancy Northeast D.C. neighborhood where she lived.

Back at her place and with all the food unloaded from her car, we were catching up, laughing, eating, drinking a glass or two of wine–that kind of thing–when she told me she was leaving town the next day and had no idea what she was going to do with all this food. (It was a lot!) I was doing my darnedest at her house to eat a bunch of this food, and she’d encouraged me to take some home, too, for which I was game. But for as delish as this food was, there was no way I could eat it all in any reasonable amount of time, and I didn’t have the refrigerator space to store much extra beyond a couple platters and a container or two.

a knock on the door

And then there was a knock on the door, or the doorbell was rung. She answered. And standing before her were a dozen or so Christmas carolers all bundled up against the winter cold and winds, all singing Christmas songs, many of them dressed in red and green and white. It was quite lovely.

Now, I have but limited experience from my childhood years of neighborhood Christmas caroling, but I had a vague sense that one of the things people sometimes did when carolers came around was to invite them in for hot mulled cider, or something like that–assuming one has a pot of hot, mulled cider on the stove and ready to go.

As the carolers sang a few songs, I whispered to Susan and encouraged her to invite them in to enjoy a bit to eat and to get a short reprieve from the cold. She did. And in short order, her row home’s living room was filled with these good-cheer carolers, all of whom seemed happy to help her eat this scrumptious, bountiful, catered food she’d brought home.

They told us they were part of a church-based social group for young adults. (Talk about an on-theme event for them to do!) They filled their plates, sang some more Christmas carols, then after about 30 minutes or so, thanked us, put their wet boots and coats back on and headed back out into the cold to bring their caroling and good cheer to others–their bellies full and their bodies warmed.

Soon after, I packed up much of the remaining food–now, a much more manageable amount, said my goodbyes to Susan and headed home, marveling at how serendipitous and wonderful that entire experience had been.

Yeah, Life can be like that.

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