This is a tale of two traditions.
Tradition #1 is the Bahama Christmas Parade. For you non-Durhamites, that’s not “ba-HAH-ma,” as in the Caribbean over-commercialized islands, but “ba-HAY-muh,” as in a small community on the north side of town. If you say “ba-HAH-ma,” folks will know you ain’t from ’round heer, and you’ll be made fun of. Mercilessly.
The Bahama Christmas Parade is an annual tradition, going back for many, many years. Our family started making it a part of our Christmas seven or eight years ago, depending on who’s counting. There are marching bands, local officials in convertibles, Santas on horseback, and a hillbilly car display like none you’ve ever seen. In our minds, it’s the closest thing we’ll ever get to Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, only with a whole lot less commercials for Black Friday.
Tradition #2 is closely related to #1. That couple you see in the photo above? Those are my friends Ken and Pam Weaver. The Weavers are a fixture on our First Impressions Team. They’ve been holding doors at the entry and exit points to our Summit Kids area since…well, I’ll bet nearly everybody has forgotten exactly when they started. But they’re as dependable as the sunrise, as friendly as they come, and they’re a couple of the most familiar faces we have at our church.
Pam and Ken live on the Bahama parade route. It’s true: the hillbillies and the Santa horses come right past their front yard. And so every year they open up their home to people from the church, people from their jobs, people from their community, people from anywhere who want a place to come to get a good view of the fun. Their backyard becomes a parking lot, their front yard becomes a review stand, and their entire downstairs and front porch and side porch and outbuilding? Well, that becomes just about the biggest Christmas breakfast buffet you can imagine. Sweet or savory, hot or cold, the Weavers and company spend weeks each year preparing to welcome people in. You walk in the side door, load up a plate or two, and find a spot to squat with some new friends you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
A couple of weekends ago they observed their thirtieth and final year as hosts for the breakfast-before-the-parade. Read that again: Thirty. Years. For three decades they have opened their home to anyone who shows up. Don’t know them? Doesn’t matter. If you hear about it and you’re hungry, that’s all the invitation you need.
While I’m sad for the end of one of my favorite parts of Christmas (the sausage balls are amazing), I’m thrilled for what these 30 years represent. The Weavers don’t just play a good hospitality game on the weekends at church. No, they live it out in their everyday lives. That parade event is just a drop in the bucket by the way they love and care for people inside and outside of their circle of influence all year long.
If there were ever two people with the spiritual gift of hospitality, you’re looking at ’em. Ken and Pam embody what it means to pour their lives out on behalf of others. They’ve figured out how to demonstrate Christ’s love through a platter of donuts and a thermos of coffee. They display the grace of the gospel through an open door and a “come on in” pat on the back. I hesitate to guess how many hundreds (thousands?) of people the Weavers have had in their home over the course of thirty Christmases.
Miss it? Yeah, I will. But I won’t miss Pam and Ken’s hospitality. They don’t need a Saturday in December to pull that off. They give that as a gift to us every single day.
(photos courtesy of Libby Colquitt)