“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” sang Bing Crosby as over eighty members arrived at the European Centre in Colchester last Saturday for the annual Christmas lunch. Greeted by a delicious glass of Fruity Fenway Xmas Pu-erh Punch, tropical palm trees, the twinkling Christmas tree and the deities looking on, the scene was a perfect example of cultural exchange.
The food preparations had begun in advance with various classes chopping vegetables in their tea breaks and a growing team in the kitchen. As one member later commented, “In how many other organizations would you find the directors, presidents and manager in the kitchen cooking the food for everyone?” And they did a fantastic job with roast chicken and chipolatas for the carnivores and buckwheat veggie nut roast for the vegetarians along with potatoes, carrot and swede mash, peas, brussel sprouts with chestnuts and of course lashings of gravy. After we spent a little time digesting, the desserts were wheeled out and everyone dug into Upside-Down Key Lime Pie and mincemeat tart with custard.
A call had been put out asking for people interested in entertaining the crowd during an open-mic session and thankfully a few brave souls had signed up. Steve from Chiltern branch led the acts on guitar with a range of festive songs and some classic rock and folk numbers that the crowd sang along to. Helen from Cambridge played a number of impressive Christmas tunes on her saxophone, despite having only been practicing for six months. Director Kate Mitchell then joined Steve with her recorder for some more beautiful music and singing.
During the lunch each table had also been debating a series of questions as part of the Christmas Quiz. Did you know that Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas in the 1640s? Or that mistletoe is not a plant but a parasite? And Father Christmas has his own postcode in Canada – HOH OHO? The winning table was awarded the surprise privilege of singing a few songs and they rose mightily to the challenge, as did most of the audience.
As with all of our events, the best part was saved until the end – the clean-up. And in excellent spirits everyone mucked in and had the place looking spick and span within no time.
The lunch was not the only event of the weekend, however, two Branches, Mid-Essex and North East Essex, also hosted a Friday night intensive led by Paul Davies, Sam Masters and a number of enthusiastic group leaders. The focus was on the don-yu and tor-yu, working on the connection with the feet and pushing up from the ground. There were lots of concentrated faces and smiles as people found new connections and deeper understandings. The well-deserved tea break included both Branches’ AGM’s, each completed in less than five minutes. A record we believe.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend with the efforts of so many people enabling us to come together and practice the Taoist Tai Chi™ Arts and chanting as well as the arts of food, drink, music, quizzing and cleaning and of course fundraising – for the Fenway both through the meal and a raffle.
Merry Christmas, seasonal best wishes and a Happy New Year to you all with love from the Taoist Tai Chi Society in Great Britain.