We hosted our annual Christmas Party for Office volunteers yesterday. Cathy plans and prepares the food for the whole thing. It's a hoot saying, "Merry Christmas" to very special people who make it possible for us to do what we do.
Problem. Second time in less than a week.
Our church has multiple services with quite a few people coming and going. These volunteers work on different days in different ways so this was bound to happen. Most of them didn't know everyone at the party.
But one very sweet lady hardly knew anyone. She knew a few staff, but no other volunteers.
I could tell when she walked in. It was that "deer in the headlights" look. She probably thought, "What am I doing here?" As people were getting food, I spoke to her. I made light of her being a stranger and promised that, by the time she left, she just might know some of us better than she wanted .
After lunch, we gathered in a large circle for one of those "White Elephant" gift exchanges. I saw her sitting with another lady. A woman with the same name as hers. They had each found a new friend.
It was obviously hard, but she's "in" now. The parting hug she shared with her new friend told me so.
Many times I am the one left out as friends gather in little groups for lively conversation. My work has a way of putting me in such places. Occasionally, a kind stranger will notice and include me.
I'm grateful. I want to be an includer, too.
How about you?