Thursday, April 07, 2005

Nelle poured

When the Central Quilters take a break from stitching to have their lunch, Nelle likes to end the meal by carrying the almost empty coffee carafe around to warm up anyone's cup and make sure the coffee otherwise does not go to waste. She frequently quips that now they can write in the newspaper that Nelle poured.

It's a regular joke among the quilters who remember the day when the social page of the local paper would include descriptions of various social gatherings, reports that would include the name of whoever poured the tea. These news stories probably seemed quaint to the quilters even in the days when they were teenagers and would read the local page news stories that told who had gone to visit her sister out of town for a week, or who had come back to Tarentum recently to visit family.

I imagine that the details of these social interactions probably looked like so much trivia to many even at the time the stories were published. And today when the news is filled with descriptions of the lives of the rich and famous, the details look quaint to us as well. After all, when we can give attention to when Prince Charles was spotted with Camilla and how their wedding plans are developing, or questions about whether Jimmy Carter was snubbed in the formation of the official delegation to the Pope's funeral, why should anyone care about who poured tea at the church social?

These details and the ways they once were reported seem quaint to me, but I wonder now whether we lose something in not viewing the facts about such social events as newsworthy. People voluntarily and graciously made themselves servants to their peers, and their peers with a matching graciousness would recognize the service they had given.

The quilters are very comfortable with each other and with others who come to join them at their weekly meal, so comfortable that today I heard the blunt, direct, and informal request, "Kenny, get the pot!" And the coffee appeared. I should not allow the friendliness and informality to conceal the fact that there were important social interactions around that table, gracious giving and gracious receiving.

Therefore, let it be known that:
On April 7, 2005 the Central Quilters gathered in the Social Hall of the Central Presbyterian Church for luncheon. Volunteers from the Tarentum Genealogical Society were among their honored guests. If the food got cold it was not because the preacher prayed too long. And Rachel, Kenny, and Nelle poured.

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