The Holidays – whichever ones you enjoy- are a time to come together and celebrate the joys and successes of the past year, or with the help of a glass of your favorite Holiday cheer, resolve to move on from the failures.  In these times of war and economic uncertainty, we can all benefit from the support and comfort of feeling we are part of a community.  So what better time than now to reconnect with members of your own community?  The neighbor lady you wave to, the man who walks his dog by your house every morning, the people you know had a baby, but never see.

In our neighborhood, we just had our fourth annual “Holiday Progressive Dinner,” and as usual, it was a well-attended, lively evening of good drinks, great food, and the wonderful company of our diverse community.  We are “out on the block” quite a bit at our house but even so, there are people I never see except for at the Holiday Progressive, so it’s a great opportunity to check in with everyone and have some fun.

We divide the evening into four courses- appetizers/drinks, soup/salad, main course, dessert- that take place in four different homes with one hour spent on each course.  It’s not a pot-luck, rather the homes hosting each course take care of everything for their allotted hour.  Because there aren’t any guidelines on theme, food, or specific holiday, you really get to experience your neighbor’s home and entertaining in a very personal way.  You learn something about the host family and what celebrating means to them.  Also, since  different homes host a course each year, it’s a fun opportunity to see the inside of your neighbor’s houses.  Who doesn’t like that?

My favorite part of the event though is actually the transition from one house to the next.  Someone keeps time and a bell is rung after the hour is up and then shouts ensue that it’s time to go.  In a few minutes there we are, 50 or more of us in a big throng, from infants to octogenarians, making our way down the street in the cold, on to the next house- laughing, talking, drinking from a flask, holding the kids hands, and helping the older ones along.

So, why not start one in your own community?  It could be just on your block, in your apartment building, your condo complex- whatever the boundaries of your community are.  Start small if you like.  Get with those one or two neighbors that you know, be the first hosts and invite everyone else.  It could be just two homes the first year, but likely it will grow.  Everyone loves a party and you’d be surprised how eager people are to welcome neighbors into their own homes.

The Holiday Progressive Dinner is something in our community that we have all grown to love and look forward to each year.  And it’s something that reminds all of us that life doesn’t just happen in our own homes, one next to the other, but that we are part of something greater.  Try starting one in your neighborhood and see if it doesn’t change the way you feel about the place you live!

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