Friends Deck the Halls

by | Dec 2018

edina magazine christmas ornament exchange

Photo: Emily J. Davis

Edina friends host an annual ornament exchange.

A group of Edina West HS grads having been getting together every year since college…first to play bridge…but for the last 30 years or so, they’ve shared Christmas ornaments and friendship.

Once upon a time there was a group of Edina West High School grads…Class of 1976. They graduated and went their separate ways for a while but then, after they came home from college and settled in Edina to marry and raise families, this group of Edina West grads knew that if they were going to stay in touch they’d need to have a reason to get together. Many of these women had married men who also went to Edina West—although one of them married a fellow who went to Edina East. Her name is Mary Kosters and she says the first thing the group did was get together to play bridge.

“With bridge you really must show up,” Kosters says. “You have to have the tables balanced…if one person doesn’t show then you won’t have the right number of people for the table. So, you feel a responsibility to get there.”

They took bridge lessons and played bridge for several years, as often as once a month, and because of that bridge game their friendships lasted. But, in time, kids got older and family responsibilities got to be more time consuming and one thing and another made getting together so often—under threat of ruining the bridge game if you failed to show—too much. Also, some of them just got tired of playing bridge. But they still wanted to keep the friendships alive, so another plan was thought up. They’d get together during the holidays for a pot luck dinner (and wine) and exchange Christmas tree ornaments.

They rotate hosting the biannual get-together and work hard to schedule it so that everyone can be there. “If someone isn’t there we miss her,” Kosters says.

The exchange works a bit like musical chairs. After dinner everyone sits around the table and sings a Christmas song as they pass the wrapped ornaments from one to another. When the song stops you have your ornament. But, sometimes, there might be a little bit of cheating. If a package is beautifully wrapped it might mean that the ornament is a real prize, too. So maybe that one accidently falls in your lap on its way around the table.

Other possible controversies include the choice of ornament. Sometimes someone might to try to slip in something that is holiday themed but can’t be hung on the tree…that is generally ruled inadmissible by the group.

Of course, it is all in good fun and clearly it is good fun because the tradition has lasted for so many years. At this point even the next generation appreciates the friendships between these women. “Our kids feel like they are related somehow,” Kosters says.

Kosters advice for people who’d like to start a similar tradition to nurture long-term friendships is simple. Start with something that makes people feel a commitment to showing up. Don’t just get together for drinks or a meal—choose a sport or a game, like bridge, that creates the sense that not showing up will be noticed. That, she says, is the best way to build the habit of seeing each other regularly.

Holiday parties are good time to start a tradition of your own.


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