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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Merry Christmas in July!

It wasn't my idea to have a Christmas in July party, but it happened. Imagine. Red house lights blinking in the heat of the summer. Jingle Bells blaring from the stereo. A lamp post adorned with mistletoe and topped with a giant red bow...and a Christmas tree, tinsel and all, sitting in my driveway. 

Oh, and did I mention the reindeer? 

I'll get to that later.

I'm not exactly the social butterfly when it comes to neighborhood stuff. While I appreciate the occasional Bunko game or Tupperware party, I'm not one to initiate neighborhood festivities.

Outside of my church and weekly Saturday morning coffee time with a few girlfriends, my social life has much to be desired.

When our church Life Group brought up the idea to have a Christmas in July party to get a jump start to support a local charity, I wanted to crawl under my chair. 

I really did. 

Since I was a group leader, I felt obligated to smile and say, "What a great idea!" Inwardly, I was thinking, How will our neighbors know that this is really going to a charity? What if they think we are con artists hording gifts for our own children?

And so we booked our children's pastor, Kelly Welhelmi, to put on a puppet show dressed in her outrageous character, Rudette, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's sister. We printed off over 100 flyers and posted to every house on our cul-de-sac and surrounding blocks asking neighbors to bring an unwrapped gift. At the bottom of the flyer in bold face type was: All gifts will be distributed through our churches' children's outreach.

Well, a Texas heat wave had hit and my family and our church small group were sweating bullets the night of the party. We had fans blowing and chilled lemonade and enough watermelon to feed an army. A few members from our church small group mingled waiting to be swarmed by neighborhood children. My front yard was a sight to see with a Christmas tree in the driveway, house lights, and even mistletoe over the doorway entrance.

We waited. 
And waited. 
And waited some more. 

Where were my neighbors? I was embarrassed and was secretly hoping we'd printed the wrong date on the flyer. After forty-five minutes, my next-door-neighbor walked his nine-year-old daughter over to get a better look at the lady wearing a brown suit, antlers that dangled tinsel, and a glittery red nose. 

The little girl placed an unwrapped My Little Pony toy under the Christmas tree and planted herself on our lawn. 

I cursed under my breadth. How could it be that only one child showed up?

And so I gave marching orders and sent my three children who at the time were, 5, 7, and 10 years, to knock on their friend's doors. I no longer cared about the gifts, I cared about saving face. 

Between door-to-door invites from my children, and a few phone calls to friends, I counted over fifty neighbors at our Christmas in July party. We had a watermelon spitting contest, a grand performance by Rudette, a puppet show, and of course lots of singing and dancing. Apart from the My Little Pony toy we collected around fifty dollars. By monetary standards, the party wasn't anything to write home about.

But something more important happened that evening. We got to know our neighbors. The couple who had just adopted a new baby from Korea, the man whose dog barks all night, an elderly man who is carrying for his wife who suffered from Alzheimer, and we got to know their names.

Every year when July rolls around, and the heat hits as only it can in Texas, our family talks about our Christmas party. We laugh and feel a closeness only we can feel. Now that I think about it...our party was a hit, after all.

Merry Christmas, even in July!