Balsams make really nice, and fragrant, Christmas trees... string together some of those berries from the mountain ash to get a head start on decorations!
I may be preaching to the choir here as I point out that Joyce and I are always quite busy this time of year. I’ll be scrambling around today for last minute ingredients for meals I’m preparing for a Christmas gathering of international students from Duke University with International Students, Inc tomorrow evening at our church’s fellowship hall. The meal is potluck-style, with many members of our church pitching in, as we may be feeding 150+ people. We must be concerned about dietary restrictions of some the students, Muslims for instance, so I’m making a huge pot of gluten-free rotini pasta with Bolognese sauce and southern-style chicken and dumplings… comfort food. Others will be making vegan dishes and desserts. I will be there early to coordinate the kitchen and the food… Joyce will be there to help with finishing touches on holiday decorations.... after she returns from Boydton, Virginia, where she's also setting up decorations at the historic Boyd Tavern along with the mayor's wife... she knows how to hobnob.
At this gathering last year, I sat at a table with a few first-year engineering students from China. Engineering is something I understand, so we had a pretty good conversation going on. That conversation led to issues of regionalism and colloquialism that we found quite funny. "Regionalism" eventually reached across the world when they asked me what I thought of them. I'm sitting there with science-minded young adults brilliant enough to attend one of the most elite schools in the world from a country that insists communism is their only God... and yet, I was able to explain God to them and why we celebrate His birth at Christmas. In doing so, I explained how God tells me that I can't say that I love Him without also loving them... that's much of the theme of the Book of James. They sat silent for a bit after that, though I could see something was whirling around in their heads. As I gathered my stuff to leave that evening, they were lined up at the door to thank me and hug me for talking to them... and one of them now attends church with us. Time spent with God never returns void.
After church this Sunday, we're both headed back to Boydton, a little over an hour away on the far side of Kerr Lake, to participate in the open house Christmas activities there. I will be taking photos of kids with Santa Claus... which should up my ante on the naughty or nice quotient. Time will tell.