As in, I cooked.
Inevitably, my guests would bring another 'orphan' and on more than one occasion, my home would be filled with the merry sounds of laughter and lots of conversation between many unlikely-to-have-otherwise-met people.
I always had a present for those I'd invited--nothing big or even expensive, but just a little something to help celebrate the season. But, it was the unexpected guests that sent me into a tizzy that first year. Nothing like sitting around watching other people open presents to make a person really feel like the third wheel!
I'm proud to say I had it wired by the second one.
Utilizing the after-Christmas sales, I'd pick up small things (by gender), wrap them as soon as I got home and shove them in a banker's box set high in my closet. I'd mark each if the gift was gender specific and then forget about them until Christmas day the following year.
That way, everyone received a gift when they came to spend a portion of that holiday with others, people who soon became friends in a day spent laughing and eating, swapping stories and groaning over whatever bowl game was playing in the background. Or was the groan of the table, for the buffet I'd set out?
While it's been a very long time since I've hosted something along those lines, though I'm still in contact with more than a few even after all these years. They remind me of those Christmas times when, if even for just a few hours, we became each other's family and forged friendships with people we might've otherwise missed meeting.
As one of my old friends reminisced in his annual email last Christmas, "The holidays at your place sure beat the hell out of the ones I'd spent alone. Alone, sucks!"
Another has commented that it made a difference between the "E's"…Enduring the day versus Enjoying the day.
As for me? Those Christmas's were some of the best and ones that I will always treasure. And I encourage everyone to think of those that will be alone during this season and take them in, if even for just a few hours on that special day.
Hoping you and yours create more wonderful memories this season!