The first party was held on a Thursday night because we were all single and didn't want to 'waste' a weekend night. That reason seems funny to us now, but just try to change the day of the party and there would be mutiny!
Since that first party I have moved countless times, (I was an apartment hopper) until finally settling into my first house post-marriage. We're on our second house and so much has changed, but the party remains the same.
The weather here in the south is unpredictable. There have been years when people have shown up in shorts and sandles then the next year a heavy sweater and coat. Last year was the first where actual winter weather threatened. We had our first ice storm and luckily it held off until after 11pm. It was a smaller, faster party but it was still a party.
When I looked around last year I saw women I love dearly, women who have stood by me through the good and the bad. Through boyfriends, bad haircuts, job changes, marriage, and the birth of my son. I see women who have loved and lost in the same time period. We've seen marriages happen and fall apart together, we've celebrated births and mourned loss with each other. We have private jokes and stories that only we think are funny. We have history, we have each other, we have the ornament party.
Every year there are friends who have seen each other recently as well as friends who haven't seen each other since last year's party. Every year I hear people exclaim that "we need to get together sooner" and "you know we say that every year and never follow-up". That last statement followed by laughter and sweet jeers that only friends can get away with.
We pass around the ornaments and joke about who has the best one that year. We ask for recipes and tell each other how great the other looks. It is a night where we are ourselves and we celebrate the begining of the holiday season together.
In the end we all know it's not the ornament or who brought the best food. It is the comradery and genuine love felt in that room. I encourage you to find your own tradition that is for you and your friends. Take the time to celebrate each other and enjoy each other's company. I'm better for this party and better for having the circle of friends I have.
Here's a scene from a few years ago. The one regret is that I have not taken photos every year.