I was thrilled that our New Year’s Eve party was mentioned in today’s Salem Statesman-Journal story, “Residents ring in new year—quietly.” But Laurel got anxious, because the story didn’t mention that this traditional gathering is for members of my meditation group, a fact that I mentioned several times to the S-J reporter who wrote:
A desire for a more intimate experience with friends is what motivated Salem's Brian Hines to host a party. "It's just a nice time for fellowship," he said. "Oregonians are a quieter breed. We'd rather have a quiet conversation with people we know than go out, and it's just a good way to catch up on the entire year."
Hines and his wife, Laurel, have hosted a vegetarian, alcohol-free gathering for about 10 friends for the past decade. The highlight is a "white elephant" gift exchange, where arguments about the rules are as much a tradition as odd presents.
So if you’re a non-meditation group friend of ours and weren’t invited to our party, don’t feel slighted. This was a cult gathering that featured lots of conversation about esoteric Eastern philosophy topics that would mystify a normal human being.
The white elephant gift exchange part of the party was fun, as always. This year we didn’t argue too much about the rules, though it took quite a while to decide how to handle two extra gifts that remained after each of the eleven party-goers had chosen (or stolen) a present.
Most of the presents were surprisingly decent, given that I always mention in the invitation that a white elephant gift should be useless, tacky, and/or tasteless.
Could the cosmos be telling me something?