The holiday season seems to last for months. Halloween brings the earliest of the celebrations, but Thanksgiving really ushers in what most people think of the holidays. Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Year’s Day follow and round the festivities out. These are times we often spend with close friends and family.

For us Halloween called with a party at John and Christine’s. It was a big dinner, dancing and costumes.   Halloween also had the annual vampire pub crawl. Both events were about fun, silliness and being with friends.

Thanksgiving was a travel weekend. I visited my mother in Northern California and had a fine dinner with her and my brother Bobby. Very relaxed and intimate with only the three of us. It was a special Thanksgiving because Bobby has recently relocated to Portland, OR, and he is now within driving distance of our old hometown and Mom. Mom loved having her two boys at the table together again. You could almost see the satisfaction she felt.

The Winter Solstice is another opportunity for bringing friends together. Several of us have taken turns hosting this celebration on the shortest day of the year. This year it was at Kurt’s house. Heavy rain was forecast and we expected 100 or so people, much more than the available indoor space would accommodate. Easy Ups and Shade structure increased the dry space and the rain turned out to be a great device for creating pockets of people. All the available space was packed with chatting circles of people enjoying the evening, rain or no rain.

Christmas was quite different. Liz’s family came to our house for the day. Just her parents, two sons and us. Lots of sitting around talking, eating, playing Scrabble, reading, and of course the opening of gifts. The meal was good, the conversations and activities interesting and fun, and the day completely relaxing. Warmth like from a fireplace.

New Year’s Eve was an evening spent with friends over a multi-course meal paired with fine wine. Four couples planned and prepared a meal that started at 7:30 and finished up at about 1:00 am. The effort and thought that went into the meal was evident by the outstanding aromas and flavors of the meal. More importantly was the time spent together. Lots of talk of food and flavors, laughing and sharing, and best of all enjoying the company of friends. It was a special way to celebrate the coming of 2011.

New Year’s Day was spent in gentle conversation at other friend’s, Mike and Tammy’s open house. People dropped in all afternoon and stayed for varying lengths of time. Lots of talking, catching up with old friends, meeting new people and enjoying each others’ company, eating, drinking and just being together.

Each of these gatherings were different, but at their core they  had a strong similarity- each was a chance to be with others we love and enjoy.

“Community” is a blossoming of friendships and deeper relationship with family, interdependence, connectedness and time spent together over the long term. It’s a blessing to enjoy and something that makes me very happy.

Here’s to another year of living in closer connection with people we love!

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