Thursday, November 6, 2008

Intersecting Traditions

My office has a Christmas or holiday luncheon in early December each year. Besides current employees, we invite retired employees and their families to attend. We eat a meal together, catch up on each other's lives, joke, and generally have a good time.

For years we put together a pot-luck dinner at the office – cleaning, moving tables, and decorating for days. Eventually as all of us got older, the work involved outweighed the fun. We started going to restaurants for our luncheon. There are not that many to choose from in the area where our field office is located, and none that made the occasion special. We briefly went back to the pot-luck dinner.

One day we discovered, by word-of-mouth, an Amish family who prepared meals for groups. You have to make a reservation several weeks in advance and you have to have a large party. We tried it and enjoyed it so much we've done it every year since. Our catered meal at an Amish farm has become a tradition that everyone looks forward to.

For $13 per person, we are served "family-style" roast beef, ham, hot rolls, Tapioca pudding, home canned green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, slaw, iced tea, coffee, and two kinds of pie. It's all you can eat and the best food I've ever tasted.

We eat in a simple one room building lighted by gas lamps. Hand-made quilts, jams, and food stuffs are displayed for purchase on tables near the open kitchen area. Long tables line the rest of the room. The food is prepared and served by reserved women wearing white muslin bonnets and long aprons. They welcome us with cheerful expressions and a calm manner seldom if ever found in traditional restaurants.

Each year I wonder what our hosts think of our loud, boisterous group comprised of people of many faiths. I wonder if they resent our presence; if they resent the need to feed outsiders in order to supplement their income. They've never indicated by word or deed that they are anything but happy to host our luncheon each year. But still, I wonder and feel a little awkward even after all these years.

Today, we've chosen a date for this year's luncheon – December 2. My office manager will call a business where the Amish family receives messages (they don't have a telephone at their home) and leave a message. In a few days we'll get a call back, confirming the date and we'll continue our tradition.

Maybe in some small way our tradition supports our hosts' tradition.

Evelyn David


  1. That's fascinating (and sounds delicious)! Maybe I'll see if we've got any Amish people around here who would do the same for my raucous Christmas Eve extravanganza; that oughta keep everyone on their best behavior. But I would miss my sister's impression of Neil Diamond, a holiday staple. Maggie

  2. Wow, that sounds perfect. This year for Thanksgiving, youngest daughter invited us to her house and doesn't want me to bring anything. Whoopee! I'm the one who usually does all the cooking. I'm delighted to have one big cooking day off.