Well, yes, it IS that season of the year when all sorts of disparate groups have their annual Christmas parties.  The barrage has begun already.

Hiram College hosted a seasonal soiree last week for Friends (That’s Friends, with a capital F), faculty types and festive individuals of all stripes, featuring a number of  tours de force by AVI, their supplier of campus food services.  Those folks can whip up a  mean truffle or two…or three or four or five, for that matter–nice selection; they do hand-carved beef or turkey sliders as well, and little savories worth looking for on the circulating trays offered by students working their way through the academic world (Full disclosure : I skipped the opportunity to get better acquainted with the possibilities of Brussels sprouts…saving room for the truffles and cheesecake.)  The jazz combo kept things lively and it’s a high-class affair indeed when the piano player has a Ph.D.(and no tip jar).The bravura performance(s) by the Hiram Community Chorus didn’t rate a post-performance bash but who knows what altos, or baritones, for that matter, do in the privacy of their own comfort zones?  If the sopranos celebrated, we’d still be hearing it this morning and no cracks in the foundations means the basses were able to stay off the police blotter yet again.

Did the St. Ambrose chancel choir celebrate?  The U.M. crowd did but it was pretty subdued; only one over-stimulated chorister hit the floor during the whole thing.  The cheesecake moved nicely there too.  One west coast  returnee contributed a salad with mango, avocado, spinach and exotic oil dressing; even John Wesley would have been tempted.  Of course, California wasn’t even a gleam in a Methodist’s eye during his time.

And then there’s the gathering of the James A. Garfield Historical Society, with tasty viands supplied by the Italian Gardens on Main St. Garrettsville.  James A. Garfield WAS a pretty social sort of guy; most politicians tend to be, I think.  He was a fraternity guy at Williams College, does that mean anything?  Anyway, the society rocked on at the Garretthouse.  Not a  historic bash, but memorable, nonetheless.

The Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary, with all of their new members & families, is next on my radar.  They will be continuing the tradition of having a White Elephant gift exchange, wherein the various attendees bring remarkable ( and many remarks are, indeed, made about them) unique, bizarre, unusual & peculiar gifts–many wrapped to disguise their true identity–to swap among the members of the group.  Now these gifts, once selected by the merrymakers, are not permanently part of the selector’s stash,  They are vulnerable to being claimed by subsequent entrants into the fray.  So…suppose you’re the fifth person to make a selection and the gaily-wrapped package you picked contained a family-sized jar of pickled pigs’ feet.  Not on your Wish List?  Just look around at the four previously-chosen items being clutched by their current owners…and make a compulsory trade; there you are with a choice of Godiva chocolates, a 25-lb. bag of cat food, a collectors edition of Fifty Shades of Gray(illustrated) or somebody’s recently-discovered collection of Topps Bubble Gum cards from the 1960’s.  Decisions, decisions.

Then, of course, you’re liable to have your chosen treasure snatched away by subsequent participants who are NOT wishing to return home with a genuine replica of the St. Louis Arch made from baggie ties, a flask of someone’s home-brewed white lightning or tickets to a performance-art installation held at a local landfill.  Great gift-giving custom to observe if you’ve just cleaned out the basement (Or are planning to leave the organization anyway).  Just remember that you could return home with something worse than what you brought.  However, there will be no hesitation about pitching it, which kept you from tossing the engraved set of pitching horseshoes that belonged to Great-Uncle Throckmorton…family heirlooms, you know.

All kinds of organizations, groups, families and neighborhoods get into the spirit (and sometimes the spirits as well) around this time of year and the halls are not the only things that get decked.  Christmas sweaters, anyone?

Go for it!