Written by: Sr. Dorothy
Delicate crystal and silver stars hung from the ceiling interspersed with a soft blue giving the appearance of gentle clouds giving off a splendid light. A Christmas tree, standing in the corner, arrayed with blue and silver ornaments dancing on a blue tree skirt which was fluffed to give a fascinating blue hew to the entire tree, blue and crystal icicles hanging from the outside eaves of the roof and shining through the large windows for a sense of peace and serenity, tables set to a “T” in delicate arrangements, background music softly playing a familiar tune – all this and more I saw standing in the doorway to a vast dining room which seemed to becken me in.
Dare I enter and break through the peace and serenity of the beauty that shone through?
Dare I, who was uninvited, place myself among the stars and clouds which seemed to be awaiting special guests? No, I stood outside the doors waiting to see what would happen next.
Within a few minutes of my waiting, several elderly men, dressed in their finest, approached the room and entered finding a reserved seat at the tables for each. As I watched the men take their seats and turned back to my original position, there appeared a long line of ladies beautifully and elegantly dressed. They stood quietly for a few seconds, then smiled with joy as their escorts arrived, to take their arm and lead them in to be seated.
“What was going on?” I asked myself. Before I could question further, I heard a voice singing the lyrics of the “familiar song” – O Holy Night which was being played on a piano while a young woman sang and beckoned the guests to join her in the chorus.
As the last couple entered the dining room, I drew back and asked, “What is going on here? I sense the joy and peace in that room filled with the beauty and warmth of those who awaited to be served.” Finally, I was told, “Why, it is the Little Sisters of the Poor celebrating Christmas and their Residents at their very first formal, black tie event.” Everything was done to perfection, and I stood to watch as the evening unfolded.
Before long, waiters and waitresses (Association Jeanne Jugan [AJJ] members and volunteers) moved toward the kitchen to place their orders for the guests. There was now conversation among the Residents as they indicated their food preferences. The plates, containing the food, were of a simple pattern yet elegant and the food was presented in very good taste. Steak and pork had been thinly cut, layered and fanned on the plate. Twice baked potatoes were garnished with cheese, green onions, and 3 cute little designs resembling flowers. Asperagus was sautéed, cut and stir fried in olive oil, salt and pepper and finished with melted butter. Everything was served directly from the kitchen, and the chef with his helpers (again AJJ and volunteers) worked diligently to move the plates as quickly as possible. There was now a lull in the movement as the guests lifted their forks to taste the succulent, specially prepared meal just for them.
As the empty plates were returned to the kitchen, dessert trays were being prepared for distribution to the guests. The dessert, Bambino Tre Leche Cake, was a Mexican dish made with 5 different kinds of milk and topped with blueberry compote.
It was a grand evening! As the guests departed the dining area, they stopped by to pick up their Christmas Gifts. All were well fed, completely relaxed and happy to move on to the next course – preparing for bed.
As I watched the happiness on the faces of the Residents(guests) as they departed the area, I walked away in peace.