Orignally published in the quarterly Explorer in March 2013.

White Elephant, Fun, Fellowship, Friends, and Chocolate Pancakes? Every year the youth group has a Christmas Party. The parties are always group bonding experiences, to be with friends and to learn more about each other. This year we went Louis Ginter Botanical Garden. The Botanical Graden has been around since 1884 as Louis Ginter’s home.

After everyone learned what the word “botanical” meant, we started to get our Christmas spirit on and go see some lights! We walked and walked through isles of lights galore! Although as the night grew older our stomachs became hungry for whatever Chester was surprising us with.

At this Christmas party there was a little twist. Chester would take us to a restaurant where we have never been to before. Therefore, I have to tell you, the bus ride was very suspenseful. We ended up going to River City Diner. We had a little, separate room just for us! As we looked at the menus and decided what we wanted, it pretty much sounded like everyone wanted chocolate pancakes and hush puppies. Well, I must tell you it was a great combination! Then we all got back on the bus with our bellies full.

But wait! – The night is still young. We went back to church and had a white elephant gift exchange. The key is you bring something you really don’t want anymore that doesn’t have great value, and a random person will secretly get the item. The gifts were pretty hilarious, from orange shoes to an “I am a pretty princess” necklace. We all learned one new thing about each other and had a very fun night! Thanks Chester!