We almost always have it on the third Saturday of December, since the third Saturday of every other month is the night we get together for our monthly Writers’ Night. For many years different members of the project took turns hosting the party. Then we went a number of years where the same household hosted it almost every year. Since the size of the party varies widely, it winds up being a major undertaking.
So this year we decided to try something different…
Michael and I rented a suite in a hotel. I actually reserved suites in three different hotels online, originally, just to get us some options. Then Michael and I went to look at them and evaluate the pros and cons. We settled on a Comfort Inn in north Seattle, as it had the largest suite, and the suite included a full kitchen (full sized refrigerator, full sized stove and oven, et cetera) rather than a kitchenette.
We suspected that changing the venue would probably lead to a smaller crowd. We hadn’t expect that the calendar dropping the third Saturday so very close to Christmas this year would lead to several people being out of town by the time of the event.
Still, we had just about a dozen people show up. Four of us had Christmas ghost stories to read. Michael and I set up a silly red-tinsel tree with twinkling lights. We had way too much food (that’s a tradition), and a gift exchange.
One thing that was nice about doing it at the hotel is that no one had to deal with getting their house cleaned up and prepped to be invaded by a bunch of people. Another nice part was that Michael and I, since we stayed the night at the hotel, got a bit of a vacation getaway out of it.
There was still clean up and packing out to do, but it felt a lot more like packing out from a convention than cleaning up a house after a party.
Not sure if we’ll do it again next year. A couple of people who haven’t hosted the party before or in a while mentioned that they would probably be available to host next year, so we might let one of them do it.
For me, it was nice to spend the day packed up the car rather than packing the car and cooking and so forth.
On the other hand, it was sad that some of the usual attendees couldn’t be there for one reason or another.
But we had a good time with a bunch of friends. People said they liked my story this year. My ghost story this year was set in my own fantasy universe, and it involved a bunch of ghosts, an evil sorcerer, an otter with a sketchbook, and a kitsune in need of rescue. It also involve one of the zen koans that has challenged me many times. Yes, part of the reason I wrote the story was to try, for myself, to capture one aspect of my understanding of the koan, “The whole universe in ten directions is one luminous pearl.”
I should stop writing this and get on to other things. Such as reading one of my presents. I think I’ll start with The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination. Should be fun, no?