Kat: "I think we're going to need a buffet table for all this food."
From a Saturday-night email dated mid-September of this year: "Our Recruitment office is doing really well. Normally, this is good, but come Christmastime, it's a royal financial pain in the tail to buy gifts for everyone in the group. Yeah, yeah, I know gift-giving is supposed to be a 'gift,' not a 'right,' but lots of things work out differently in theory than in practice… Would you be interested in drawing names for a Christmas exchange this year?"
You know your group of friends has expanded when you remember when planning for your yearly Christmas party once was "scrawl down a list of friends' names, email everyone to see if they're available next Saturday, and make something edible." Something edible, of course, meant "I'll figure out what I'm cooking sometime later." You know things have changed when this year's holiday party planning involves lunch with two other friends, details, and actual division of labor.
Fast-forward three months to what jokingly became known as the Pan-Holiday Extravaganza; too late for Christmas, too early for New Year's.
In the grand southern tradition, we gathered together and ate copious amounts of food. It could be said that geeks don't cook, and this would probably be a true statement if the geek in question was Jeremy (whose sworn duty for the PHE was to obtain carbonated drinkage), but the rest of us appear to have mastered the art of applying varying amounts of heat to tasty morsels of edible matter:
Roast turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, corn, baked beans, green bean casserole, salad-of-doom, rosemary and garlic mashed potatoes, three kinds of freshly-baked bread, turtle cake, pumpkin cheesecake, turtle cheesecake, pecan pie...
Why, yes, we did explode. Whatever made you guess?
All in all, once the planning was done, it was pretty simple. We ate. We trekked to Misty and Stephen's house, where we did our holiday gift exchange My spouse, newly sporting facial hair, made funny faces at me when I took his picture. We played many good games.
When it became obvious that it was time to go, people started lingering. Getting your coat became an excuse to talk for another thirty minutes on religiously-help opinions on programming. Packaging up desserts meant a good, long chat with someone about house-buying plans and your spouse's need for a vacation.
I quit joking about my 'geek family' a long time ago. I think at one point in time we were all the 'outcasts' - the rebellious, frankly-different types that never quite fit in anywhere, but who fit in with each other. We stayed up until two a.m. this morning before we finally shooed ourselves home, and, scariest of all, most of us within easy driving distance ended up going out for dim sum this morning.
We raised our glasses (of champagne, sparkling grape juice, ginger ale, white wine, and whatever else we had available) to the friends absent - Tim to family in Louisiana, Geof to hockey, and Heather to stomach flu.
We only called you wankers once. Promise. :D
The New Year's Eve gathering will be No New Food night - since I didn't help host the PHE, we'll be gathering at my house for New Year's. We'll eat the leftovers and...do...something. Movies? TV? Geek Twister? Standard obscene phone calls to friends on West Coast?