The women of our church were invited to attend a “Mug Mania” Christmas party. Apparently you were supposed to bring a mug with themed items inside, whatever that meant. In addition, there would be a cookie exchange half an hour before, if you wanted to participate.
As happy as a cookie exchange sounds, it isn’t really very practical if you have children who gobble up all your cookies before the oven has even cooled down from the baking. The cookie I make the most often is oatmeal raisin cookies, which aren’t very Christmasy. I count oatmeal raisin cookies as a perfectly fine meal, since it includes oatmeal and raisins, both of which are highly healthy. So when those warm cookies come out of the oven, there are no cookies left over unless I snatch them beforehand and say, “These are for Dad,” and put them in a Tupperware. Otherwise down the hatch they go. I suppose one good thing about a cookie exchange is that you get such a wide variety of cookies. But what’s the point when my family wolfs them all down in one sitting. It just doesn’t seem worth all the effort of having carefully picked them out. <sigh>
Okay, so the great “Mug Mania” day arrives. I take a nice mug that has a candle in it, and I place a necklace on top to add some bling. But I don’t wrap it because nobody said anything about wrapping paper. As soon as I walked through the door, I saw that everyone else had wrapped their mugs. I felt highly stupid and disoriented. Then I put my chocolate truffles down on the table, which was so long and had so much food on it, that this was really an enormous potluck. If I had known the ridiculous amounts of great-looking food, I would not have eaten that slice of pizza as I walked out the door, ravenous.
Next I walked into the sanctuary, which was filled with large round tables. Everybody was a stranger. Once again, I felt disoriented as I went from table to table, asking if the empty seats were taken. I was rejected from at least three tables. In my earlier years a lump would have risen in my throat, and I would have wanted to leave by then, because I felt so left out and awkward and stupid and unwanted. But I told myself I didn’t care. These women didn’t know me, and I was above being hurt. I was glad that I was mature enough to just brush it off.
I finally found a table with an empty space. I talked awkwardly, and then was silent for a long time. I know, right? Something is definitely wrong when I don’t engage people. The woman across from me said I looked tired. I laughed. I didn’t cry. Nope. No crying from this woman who doesn’t belong. I felt a deep yearning in my soul for the companionship I had in the church we left. I loved all the women there. They adored me, and they flocked around me, and I knew them, and I felt like I belonged. I shoved that whole thought out of my mind and tried to engage in conversation with strangers now.
After eating the spinach dip and bread, barbequed weenies, and heaps of other wonderful food, a speaker told her testimony. She presented the gospel. I looked at her and thought to myself, “That woman is a really sweet person.”
Next came the mug exchange. The women cleared the tables and made a huge circle of chairs. A bowl was passed around (that looked like Santa’s rear end) with numbers in it. I picked out number 74. Yes, there were a lot of women at this event. I’d never been to a white elephant exchange that had so many people. It was already after 8 pm. I wondered if I would be here until midnight. Number one was called out, and a woman opened a mug. And on it went. People started stealing from each other. It became uproariously funny. The older ladies were some of the best at stealing. People whooted with laughter at their antics.
I saw a ceramic mug from Starbucks that looked like a disposable, throw-away cup. I leaned over to the girl next to me and said, “Why would someone want to buy something that looked like trash?” She laughed. Then she got a “trash cup,” too. But this one looked like an ugly Christmas forest. She held it out desperately for someone to steal, but no one did. I told her not to look so desperate, to play it cool and look like you want it. Then someone said, “Hold up your mugs if they aren’t frozen.” A mug could only be stolen twice before it was frozen, which meant no one else could steal it from you.
The girl next to me raised her mug so high, she looked like the Statue of Liberty. I leaned over and said, “Should I set your mug on fire?” She said, “I’m so glad I sat next to you. You’re so funny!”
At long last, her hideous mug was stolen, and she got a much better one. Mine was fine, too, although two of mine (which were better) were stolen right under my nose. Someone else turned her back, and her mug was stolen without her knowledge. Everyone in the room laughed.
At the end of the Christmas party, I said good-bye to the girl that enjoyed my jokes, and I thought, “This wasn’t so bad after all…”Tweet