During the month of December, festivities have centered around feasting, candles, gifts and giving, beautiful music, and the art of gathering together and telling “the story.” I love this time of year!

One beautiful memory for me was helping my friend, Jeannie, prepare and serve at her dinner party in her home. It was really special because my daughter helped, too.

Jeannie invited her craft group friends.This group of ladies have gathering for 15+ years, meeting every month in each others homes to work on a craft. Not just any ordinary craft, either. I’ve seen their work–classy and works of art! Last week was Jeannie’s month to host–December being a month of relaxation and planning for the group’s upcoming year–and Jeannie asked me to help her with the prime rib dinner and entertainment, and to surprise the ladies.

What I noticed about this cohesive group was their spirit of giving and closeness with one another. I think if every woman had a close-knit group to be a part of–where true opinions count, it’s safe and easy to ask “what do you think of this or that,” or say, “I need help with this,”–sharing each others struggles and always there for one another, this world would be a better place.

For my daughter and I, this group was inspiring.

We started the event by planning. One bright and early morning, I went to Minor and Jeannie’s to plan the menu and events.

And to get the prime rib ready. (Yes, I’m wearing a Hip Hostess apron.)

And then Jeannie set the perfect party table using what she had. (What defines perfect? Whatever makes you happy and perfect in your mind.)

I was honored that she asked to borrow my Dollar Store glasses so she could talk about the message of RE (Entertaining is easy, with an “I can do this!” attitude.)

The table was set so beautifully.

And then the ladies came.

They mingled. We all mingled. We played a fun game.

I loved being part of the “kitchen help,” with Jeannie’s husband, Minor.

We celebrated when the prime rib came out of the oven.

I was particularly touched by Jeannie’s sharing around the dinner table that this was her first big entertaining moment to pull our her wedding china in 6 years, since she had a bone marrow transplant.

She didn’t know that while cooking in the kitchen, I was listening around the corner from the dining room … and I was touched.

I loved glancing in and watching these beautiful ladies interact.

Then the big surprise happened when my daughter, Abby, came around the corner playing Christmas carols on her violin. None of the ladies knew she was a violinist!

She serenaded us and shared about her upcoming trip to Carnegie Hall with the Siskiyou Violins group in March.

As we served this beautiful group of ladies, I couldn’t help but think about how the holidays provide a catalyst for memory making.

Anyone looking in would have been encouraged by feeling the love, the Christmas spirit, and the true affirmation of hope.

Once again, food was the conduit for connection.

And through this night of connection, another story can be told.

What memory-making event has “changed you” this Christmas season?