By Kirsty Guy
I was working in the gardens imagining a large group of people celebrating Christmas. Or was it just me remembering times of the past with big family gatherings and being wistful, it was the beginning of something that was bigger than me!
As a single parent when I don’t have my children at Christmas it is quite unfulfilling. Staying on my own is boring, going to some friends and watching them with their children makes me hanker for my own, and when I tried to volunteer I was told I was too late the slots were full! So, what to do??
One rainy day I found myself at the hub for morning prayer and following on from that was the Hub Grub group. So, I stayed and helped and there it dawned on me, what if I reached out to other people who were alone at Christmas, I could follow the hub grub format, use the hub invite people in – I mean other than paying for a lonely meal in a pub at great expense what other opportunities were out there, I spoke to our Minister Sam who said yes go for it, but don’t do it alone! Ha wasn’t that the point – I am alone!
It sounds good in theory, but I was still wavering, what if I couldn’t cope, what if too many came, what if no one came, what if, what if??? Then the most wonderful thing happened Graeme and Karen said hurrah that’s just what we want to do too as their children had flown the nest and were busy elsewhere, so this would suit them. Their encouragement was my motivation and confidence, we started advertising and leaflet dropping. I was sad but happy that none of the hub grub people needed us, in fact for a long time it seemed nobody needed us. Karen was kind and reassured me even a dinner for 3 was better than the alternative of being alone! Then it began the church prayed for people, and opportunities arose.
Ness found a website to help us reach people on their own at Christmsas, someone on Facebook pointed us towards NCT buses who were supporting community Christmas Day Events, Thomas James the Estate Agent phoned to offer their assistance, The Parish Office wanted to put up posters inside and out and get it on their web page too, the support from the community was amazing.
As for my lovely Church family their generosity was over whelming with donations in pounds, secret Santa gifts, wine, crackers, table clothes, food and even the loan of a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey was spot on!
I was worried at the lack of takers especially with the number of gifts and donations coming in, I worried as I felt like a fraud. However, the word spread and soon the people started to get in touch. Yes, we had lonely people coming, and people who couldn’t face travelling to be with family, people who didn’t like cooking and people facing circumstances out of their control. My friend who has no time for God but radiates with love went out of her way to ensure I met a lady who like me wouldn’t have her kids for Christmas and it was so easy to invite her and see the joy on her face to be included. The Bakehouse in the village encouraged someone else to contact me, he was quite unsure about joining us, as he wasn’t local, wasn’t poor, wasn’t needy but would be on his own for Christmas – he said but I don’t want to come to an old ladies’ lunch – I put him right told him our group was not all old and he should join us, and so he did!
On Christmas Eve at Church a lovely lady Sue offered us red cabbage for the festivities and then went on to help Liz peel all the potatoes and carrots, I was so grateful to them.
On Christmas Day we were blown away by the visitors to the hub in the morning. First off Margaret from hub grub to say how wonderful she thought we were, and gave us a special bottle to celebrate with, and then the neighbours opposite the hub popped in to donate homemade mince pies. Graeme, Karen, their daughter Susie ‘superstar’ and myself had a ball prepping the lunch, everything just seemed to work out with ease, like we were being looked after by the Lord, there was such a calm presence in the room.
The people arrived, and Karen was a superstar chatting to all and making them feel welcome, there were smiling faces and conversation all round. One of the guests played us a few carols on the piano and the atmosphere was happy and warm. As we sat down to dinner I looked at the group and was astounded to realise that we had a range of ages from their 20’s upto 90’s but everyone looked and felt included, and all appetites were satisfied.
Onto pudding and a near crisis, the microwave didn’t want to play so off I went across the road to the lovely people who had donated the mince pies and asked if they could do the honours, they were wonderful invited me in and before long I was able to serve up the hot Christmas pud.
Time flew by so quickly as we were having so much fun, we all opened our secret santa presents and soon it was time for some people to leave – but not empty handed, No! Everyone was able to take home enough food for tomorrows lunch too which created even more smiles.
Graeme and Karen took one of our guests home and we started the up hill slog of tidying up, I was totally amazed at the speed and efficiency of our youngest helper Susie, who did all the washing up, one of our guests jumped in to do the drying and in no time at all we could relax over a game of scrabble.
I can not tell you how great the day was, but in the words of our eldest guest Margaret all the way from Wollaton – there were lovely people, a lovely place and lovely food. She said her day had been “beyond her wildest dreams!”
Someone once told me that to combat a problem you yourself are suffering with you should go out and help someone else who is suffering in the same way, with God’s grace I blew my loneliness away.
Thank you to ALL for your support, prayers and generosity, I’m still not sure whether it was a vision, but it sure evolved with God’s Love stamped all over it.