Last year, Monday nights meant coming home and hurrying through dinner, so that Mitch and I could pile into our car and arrive more or less punctually at our weekly community group, where we’d have rousing discussions with a handful of fellow parishioners until nine or ten o’clock, when we’d take our leave and ride home, to fall fitfully asleep the second our teeth were brushed.
This year, it means counting out seats and tucking folding chairs and cushions into odd corners of our tiny living room, to acommodate the 10-13 people who will arrive at seven o’clock sharp. It means vacuuming up the thin layer of cat hair that settles over our apartment during the week, and making the bathroom look presentable. Also – and this is my favorite part – it means thinking up fun things to feed those 10-13 people.
Last week, our first week of hosting the group at our apartment, gave me an excuse to make a pile of gingersnaps and a huge soup pot full of spiced cider, complete with cinnamon sticks. This week it means pots of tea and brown sugar cookies, and next week, I expect, it’ll mean homemade hot cocoa, with marshmallows.
I didn’t realize quite how thrilled I was at the prospect of having a mass of people to bake for until I mentioned the hot cocoa idea to Mitch and he rolled his eyes and asked, “With homemade marshmallows?” And really, I did think twice about it.
A big part of the fun, though, is assembling such an ecclectic group of people in our living room, and listening to (and participating in) discussions of sermons and theology and doctrine as they gather steam, whisking people into territory they’ve never dared approach before – or are all too familiar with, and so are ready for a challenge. Mitch is one of the leaders this year, which suits him well, as he can maneuver a conversation artfully from one point to the next, while the cats provide a bit of comic relief, sauntering in from time to time to make the rounds, before choosing one chair to curl up underneath for a watchful, tail-flicking rest.