A wonderful Christmas gathering

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The Christmas tree with secret Santa presents underneath

 Rye Community Shop and other volunteers organised the first Christmas day community lunch this year. I went along not quite knowing what to expect. I had a task to do, helping to serve the sherry as guests arrived, but the person in charge of the drinks, Tony Breckle seemed to be very much in his comfort zone and didn’t need any assistance, apart from fetching him an elf hat, which I did.

I hadn’t planned to join the lunch itself as I don’t like any Christmas food, especially turkey, But the chefs were way ahead of me and had prepared beef for the picky eaters, which was delicious. In fact there were alternatives provided for every course, for instance as well as Christmas pudding with custard, there was a huge apple pie.

The atmosphere was fantastic with people from all over Rye and beyond clearly having come in a mood to enjoy themselves and to entertain. We started off with crackers, so hats and silly jokes all round. There was plenty of food, with more than enough for seconds. Despite my reservations, the turkey looked delicious, very moist.

The secret Santa present opening went very well. Each person was handed a present and when the music started, we had to pass the parcels to the left. Then it stopped and restarted and we passed them to the right.  When the music stopped again we opened the present we were left with and we were able to swap with our neighbours if we wanted to.

Tasty Christmas cakes kindly made and donated by Hastings catering students

Then we had a singalong with live keyboard accompaniment from Brian Murphie and a quiz. At this time, we were all checking our watches as we knew that the Queen was due on, was she late this year? Had we missed her? But the volunteers had everything under control. When we finally filed through to the TV room at about 3:15pm, the Queen was ready to speak to us. She had clearly either waited until we were ready, or a volunteer technical expert had recorded it and had it ready to go.

We watched the speech accompanied by tea and coffee and Christmas cakes kindly made by students at Hastings catering college.

As we left St Mary’s centre, replete with fine food, good company and plenty of wine, all agreed it was a wonderful day and we couldn’t wait for next year.

Photos: Seana Lanigan

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