This past Friday evening, my home was filled to overflowing with some of my dearest friends and neighbors. As each guest came in from the cold, I offered warm embraces and heartfelt smiles. Eyes sparkling, hands met, lips kissed, and spirits shone. The presence of each person was a gift, the greatest gift I could hope for during this season of delightful abundance. As shoes were left by the door and coats gathered into my arms, the guests–feet clad in a wild assortment of socks and stockings– flooded the welcoming space of my home. My heart glowed with delight as the mound of shoes by the entryway divan grew into a mountainous “shoescape” of varied shapes, sizes, and colors. Every pair of shoes, from tiny to enormous, was a symbol of each person’s unique presence. Sparkling flats, stiletto heels, sensible flats, business oxfords, warm boots…and even a pair of flashy holiday sneakers. Pup dutifully nosed each and every shoe, his copper tail wagging in constant, hound dog approval.
The day had started perfectly, with a list of clients in the morning and an afternoon scheduled off to prepare for the event. As time had allowed in the prior days, I had spottily tended to purchases, decorations, and pre-party cleaning, yet the essential, final touches remained undone. Home from my office for barely a few minute, a beautiful friend, with her exquisite daughter in tow, arrived to arrange the last of the decorations and dinner items. Their presence was utter perfection, for they lit up my house with their soft, energetic artistry and charm. After they departed, serene Christmas music filled the air, and I quietly scurried about to complete my tasks. My thoughts were light and grateful, for the gracious spirit of the mother-daughter pair had set the stage for the wonderful evening ahead. My precious, bear-sized neighbor arrived, his delicate young daughter at his side, to set up the table of refreshments. Smiling broadly, he turned on the strands of white lights he had diligently strewn through the backyard trees to create a fairy tale setting. Before long, my doorway was graced by the lovely, smiling face of a russet-haired girlfriend. Like sisters, we giggled and chattered as we tidied up, two pair of hands making quick work of the few remaining bits to be done. Candles lit, fire glowing, and a serenade of music flowing about us, we surveyed the sparkling beauty about us with girlish smiles. Then, as only girlfriends can do, we continued laughing and joking as we ran on light feet to the bedroom where I changed into my red velvet evening attire. Hair brushed, perfume dabbed on lightly, and pearl necklace and earrings in place, I was ready. We chortled as my pal called attention to my feet; purple down-filled booties were definitely not the ideal accent. The doorbell chimed, and the evening began.
As the night unfolded, it dawned upon me that my favorite part of such events was bringing my extraordinary friends together in one space. It was watching their spirits connect with each other that brought me the greatest delight. The luminous atmosphere, aglitter with shining holiday decor and merriment, was magnificent. The bountiful array of splendid food and drink was assuredly a sight to behold. Yet it was the interconnectedness of the guests, the interplay of laughter and chatter, that was most spectacular–and priceless. Some were meeting for the first time, others were rekindling friendships, and many were friends who saw each other nearly every day. Like snowflakes, so very different–yet essentially the same–the night was filled with the unique spirit of each guest. Joyfulness reigned as spirits wove in the delight of companionship. Wine flowed, plates were heaped, and conversation flew. Not one to drink myself, I soaked in the sheer beauty of the evening as I offered beverages, refilled platters, and tidied up. I felt at one with my guests, immersing myself in their presence. A few vital friends were not present, one due to vast distance, another to a horrible cold, and a few others missing due to other commitments. Still, their spirits, each and every one, were with me through the night. All that heaven could allow filled my home, and I felt so deeply blessed, so humbly grateful.
The evening took a shape of its own, and my feet began to tingle in anticipation of dancing. Older guests departed into the star-laden night, and I half-smiled at the slightly diminished line-up of shoes. Requests for lively tunes were called out, and raucous dance music soon filled the air. Slightly weary from the long day, my eyes lit up quickly and we danced as though the night were still young. Holding hands, twisting, turning, and laughing, we connected in the timeless energy of dance. Again, I was struck by the exquisite beauty of each and every one of my guests. So precious to me, each and every one, I did not want the night to end. Little by little, my friends returned to the quiet serenity of their own homes. Well past midnight, four of us remained in my kitchen, with my stalwart girlfriend washing dishes as I tidied as best I could. Two humor-filled friends provided steady company and laughter, and time evaporated once again. My sweet girlfriend was the last to leave; though tired, she wanted every last piece of crystal to sparkle before she departed. Closing the door behind her, I was especially grateful for her kindness, her lovely spirit, and her friendship. The peaceful night embraced me, and I moved slowly to shut off the lights. Pup, asleep on his bed, stirred in contentment. The night, full of snowflakes and connections, had been sheer bliss…such are the most precious moments of life.