A JBFC ChristmasDecember 30, 2013 7:09 pm
It all begins with cooking, as do most Christmases around the world. For days leading up to the big day, we cook and cook and cook.
Biscuits for the Christmas brunch-check
Rolls for the dinner- check
Egg Casseroles (will all those pans fit in the oven?)-check
Bread torn and drying for the dressing- check
88 pounds of potatoes purchased- check
15 chickens slaughtered-check
Enough fresh spinach picked from our garden to fill a room- check
Needless to say, it is quite the process and takes several days. But, all this prep is done to make an already special day a little more special for our family; our whole family- including our girls, guests, matrons, scholarship students, staff, and many of their families. In the end, nearly 90 people join us for the Christmas dinner. And this year, not only did we have guests from the States, but we had an entire family of six from Austria join in the celebration!
The celebration, as it has for many years past, starts with a Christmas brunch, where we serve biscuits and gravy, jam, and an egg casserole. Normally, this brunch is just a time of gathering and a way to get really full so we only have to cook two meals (I am not as accustomed to cooking for as many people as our matrons are- and on Christmas, it is on me!)
However, this year’s brunch included a special surprise under our Mango Christmas tree- a handmade Christmas dress for every single JBFC girl made by the seamstresses of the Sims family. Joyce Sims, mother of our development director Ashli Sims, decided she wanted to do something special for the JBFC girls back in July. She recruited her mother, sisters, youngest daughter, and friends to help with the project – some donated fabric, others donated their time and sewing skills. And together they made 43 unique dresses, each tailor made for one of our girls, and all done in time for me to carry them to Tanzania in November. This act of kindness prompted other Christmas surprises for the JBFC girls, but I’m getting ahead of myself. As the girls opened their carefully wrapped, brand new dresses, made just for them, shrills filled the room and a smile filled the face of absolutely every single girl.
The time in between the two meals is spent prepping, yet again. Cut and spice the chickens, put the ingredients for the dressing together, boil the potatoes, mash the potatoes. The list goes on and on. And then, the big party descends upon us. As we lay the food out on the table, the gifts and stocking for each girl lie under our Mango Christmas Tree, and the Christmas music plays as our guests come in, it starts to finally feel like Christmas- even when it is 80 degrees outside!
Since the food is hot, and we haven’t eaten since our big brunch, we start with the buffet. Little girls first, followed by the others, then our guests, staff, etc. After what seems like half an hour, everyone has a plate and the room is silent. But, days and days of prep disappear in minutes and all that is left is a pile of dirty plates and some mashed potatoes- yes, we made far too many, AGAIN!
After everyone is belly-up, we have a prayer service featuring readings about Christmas and songs sung by our a capella choir- Silent Night in Swahili, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Jingle Bell Rock.
Then, it is gift time, the time we have been waiting for all day. Everyone gets a gift- from our staff, to scholarship kids, and of course, our girls! Each one of our girls starts with the stockings, filled with things from Austria, New York, and Tulsa. Two JBFC Board Members, Kristin Bender and Cathy Herrin, had 43 small purses made to match the girls Christmas dresses. And our girls also got new jewelry from our staff and our visitors from Austria. To top it all off, everyone received brand new backpacks with the JBFC logo on it (of course, Ester’s backpack hit her at the mid-calf, but she didn’t care- it was hers)!
By 9:00, everyone is full and on their way. We look at the war zone that is my living room and kitchen and decide that cleanup can wait for another day. After all, it is Christmas, and what a great one it was!
Blogger Chris Gates is the Founder and Executive Director of JBFC.
This post was written by Mainsprings