Without your family on Christmas? You’re invited to Christmas Day dinner | RecordCourier.com

Without your family on Christmas? You’re invited to Christmas Day dinner

by Jo Rafferty

There is a place for those to go who don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with. On Christmas Day, a holiday dinner will be served as it has been for the past seven years at St. Gall Catholic Church.

But, the dinner cannot be served without guests, and without the volunteers who make it happen.

“I have had wonderful help from Sean Duggan who volunteered to call everyone on last year’s list and Jeanne Whited who has volunteered to be the chef,” said Rita Hill, who has organized the dinner every year. “Without the help of many others this dinner would never happen. I have had over 115 people contact me to help, be a guest or donate to the dinner. That is the largest response I have ever gotten. It looks like 76 people will be eating dinner, which is also the largest number of people attending.”

The eighth annual Noel Christmas Dinner for those without family will be held at St. Gall church, 1343 Centerville Lane, Gardnerville, on Christmas Day, Monday, Dec. 25.

A planning meeting was held on Dec. 16 and preparations are under way for this family-style dinner. The event will begin at 1 p.m. with socializing and getting acquainted.

“Around 2 p.m. the traditional dinner will be served, a gift exchange will take place immediately following dinner, and dessert will be served to end a pleasant day. Much fun and laughter is shared by all who attend,” said Hill.

The concept for the Noel Christmas Dinner began on Thanksgiving Day 1999, when Hill couldn’t stop thinking about an elderly woman from her church, whose husband had died and who had no children. After being pushed by a “persistent internal prompting” she decided to give the woman a call.

“She said she was in her nightie and that she was depressed since she had no family to be with,” said Hill, in a Dec. 14, 2005, Record-Courier article.

The woman attended Hill’s family Christmas dinner. The elderly woman’s name was Noel Farrell, which began the tradition of calling it the Noel Christmas Dinner.

“All of a sudden it popped into my head that other people are alone, too,” said Hill.

The first Noel Christmas Dinner was held at a house in Genoa and the second at Pastor Bill Nadeau’s house. Farrell was able to attend two of the Christmas dinners before she passed away, but not without knowing that the event had been named after her.

“It’s about making others happy on Christmas,” said Hill. “It’s a chance to meet new friends and become part of a new family.”

Anyone in the community who will be without family is invited to attend. To plan for food, Hill will need your name, address and phone number and if you are single or a married couple. Call Rita Hill, event coordinator, as soon as possible at 783-9908, to receive a personal invitation to the event.

Transportation is available for those who need it.