Sunday, December 14, 2014

Writers' Group Christmas Party 2014

(Early on the morning of the party, before guests arrived)
Saturday, December 13 was the date chosen to hold our annual Christmas party, our second since we bought Xanadu in New Hampshire's arctic North Country. We were lucky last year -- by December 7, the date of 2013's get together, there was only a thin crust of snow on the ground.  This past Tuesday, a whopper of a Nor'easter walloped us with a foot of wet, heavy snow.  It was enough of an event that we cancelled the regular writers' group meeting, a decision that nagged at me all night until 9:30, when I glanced out one of my bedroom windows to see the snowplow pushing a pile as big as the surrounding mountains had gotten stuck on our road.  It had been gray, gloomy, and cold outside since, but nothing was going to stop us from gathering for the party.  Not even the fallback cushion of a snow date or roads plowed poorly (or our driveway shoveled even worse).

The day before, I'd made a homemade beef stew for the gathering that slow-cooked for most of Friday afternoon.  At 6 a.m. on Saturday, I moseyed downstairs and got to work on a croissant bread pudding with raisins and pecans.  By the time the first of many guests (twenty in all) arrived, my big glass drinks decanter was filled with refreshing fruit punch made with seltzer and sliced lemons, coffee was brewed, and the house positively sparkled.

(South meets North -- writers from Nashua Writers' Group and Berlin Writers'
Group hanging before the Yankee Swap and story readings)
Friends from the Nashua Writers' Group, my amazing support system in the southern part of the state, and Berlin Writers' Group, which I helped create way up here, began to arrive. Presents went under the tree for our annual Yankee Swap, and an incredible buffet spread appeared on the table in our kitchen.  Among the food we enjoyed were: homemade turkey pot pie, homemade mac and cheese, roasted red pepper dip and pita crackers, bread and butter, a chopped green salad, and the aforementioned beef stew. Completing a dessert menu unlike anything I've seen was: homemade blueberry pie, homemade apple pie, homemade sweet potato/pumpkin/squash pie, homemade pistachio cake, luscious parfait cups (made with pudding, angel food cake, whipped cream, and sprinkles), angel food cake with orange frosting, amazing brownies--two types, including salted die for!, and homemade chocolate/pretzel candies.

At the September party, guests were invited to select a prompt, which was the starting point for the readings.  I got "You're digging in the garden when you find..." (other prompts were: "Death pays a visit", "Moving Day", "The Color Blue", "The Color Green", "A Murder Mystery", and "A Winter Storm").  I was beyond inspired to write one of the oldest stories lingering in my card catalog of ideas, "Legerdemain in the Valley of Flowers", which involves ancient ruins on an alien planet, a dose of M/M romance, and the notion of bringing life back to a dead world.

(Christmas Party Score)
After noshing, we held the Yankee Swap.  I got #6 in the order, middle of the road.  Somehow, I managed to hold onto a gorgeous new copy of Jorge Luis Borges' On Writing (there was, as always, a wealth of presents, all geared toward writing, writers, and inspiration).  Friends also brought gifts for me and the family that were unexpected and quite lovely -- gourmet fudge, new pens for the first of my 2015 adventures, a gorgeous, handcrafted art hanging among them. The readings commenced after the swap, and they ran almost until six that night, when the party officially ended.

It was, as expected, a fun and uplifting time.  I can't wait until the next of our writers' group parties at Xanadu.  May 17, 2015 -- to celebrate, among other things, my fiftieth birthday on Spaceship Earth.

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