Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's a festschrift, anyway?

"Excuse me, then! You know my heart.
But dearest friends, alas! must part." - John Gay

I lamented in my last post about having to say good-bye (for now) to dear friends when we moved from the south back to New England. Between our neighborhood, church, work, and town, there are a LOT of people that we are going to miss. I must take a moment, however, and pay proper respect to a very important group of people. That is, (wait for it)... book club. 

This is a group of gals that I really didn't want to say goodbye to. I'm not sure if they know exactly how much I'm going to miss them, because as we parted ways I held it together remarkably well. I could have shed many tears at my last meeting, been a runny-nosed blubbering fool, and that would have been perfectly acceptable. In fact, we all know that it doesn't seem quite like book club if at least one of us doesn't have a good cry (all of the male readers are cringing at the thought of a group of crying women talking about books). But our last days in SC were a little bit of an out-of-body experience. Somehow, someway, I remained calm and at peace (just don't ask my husband to comment on that statement).

Are you thinking to yourself, "Gosh, she must really like to read", "Get that girl a new library card", or "I wonder if she's ever heard of an e-reader?". Well yes, I do like love to read, but it's more than that.

A typical gathering of ours starts with banter about daily life. There might be talk about what you had for dinner, how many bloody noses occurred at your house that day, how you're running late because a stranger called saying your dog was on their porch, how your husband surprised you with an impromptu date last week, or how you rocked it at a tennis match, planted a garden, got a new brood of chickens, completed your half marathon, or had a fabulous (or not-so-fabulous) week of home schooling.   

Then comes the fare; an impressive display of dips, chips, cheeses (pimento if we're very lucky), fruits, vegetables, and sweets (it's understood that chocolate must *always* be available in some way, shape, or form) and anything else the hostess feels so inclined to whip up. This is an important part of the night, as we all know that real affinity begins around the dinner (or dessert) table.

Naturally, there's the book discussion where we dissect, comment, question, admire, reflect, explain, commiserate, concur, agree to disagree and more. Discussions start here, but almost always lead to conversations that go far beyond the topics covered in the book (and last well past midnight). Inevitably, we end up sharing heartfelt moments about our pasts, the struggles and joys that are happening in our lives right now, things we want to accomplish in the future, ways in which we can improve our health, parenting and marriage, and almost always, we discuss practical means to spark change in our community (and beyond). These are the types of conversations that led to friendships that have helped me change, grow, rethink, and navigate through these past few years in ways that wouldn't likely have happened on my own.

I should note that these relationships extended outside the boundaries of book club (I don't want anyone joining their local library's book club with expectations of fast friendship only to leave asking, "who were those people and what is a festschrift?"). We also saw each other at play group, game nights, craft night, small group, running dates, double dates, soccer games, shopping trips, and more! And though all of these avenues contributed to our bonds, book club happened to be my favorite; we might have even planned the closing of our house around the July book club (or vice versa), just to squeeze in one more.

Now, I didn't mean to make you all cry, sorry about that. It's not all forlorn because I'll still keep in touch with these lovely ladies through social media, texting, and the occasional phone call. I'll also look forward to flying down for a possible girls' weekend next spring (well, it will be spring in the south, we'll probably still be suffering winter in the north). And maybe, just maybe, we'll even get a visitor or two from the group up here at our place (forget what I just said about the never ending winter, ladies). But really, book club in New England would be fabulous. Like something you read about.


  1. I don't know what to say, Erin. It's so bittersweet. I enjoyed looking through all the books in that collage... even Forever Amber's seductive cover. I think of some of the great books you chose like Stolen Lives and Molokai, books I wouldn't have picked up on my own, but really enjoyed and learned from. We really covered a lot of ground in our personal friendship and in our book club. I'm so thankful to God for you, for bringing you into my life not once, but twice. I know He's used your gentleness to teach me, to bless me, to encourage me. The women in your future will be blessed indeed.

    1. Rachel, thanks again for reading, commenting, encouraging. My reply here was getting to be too long, a letter is on it's way to your mail box ;)

  2. Every time travel back, there will be some emotion! Will learn a lot.


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