The Black & White Soiree and The Power of One

Every year, I host a traditional holiday party called the Black and White Soiree. It’s a gathering of about 60 friends in my small vintage apartment. My friends Alanna and Megan help with the cooking because, as my mother would say, I am domestically challenged. I managed to make cookies but I told people they were for only decoration. They didn’t look edible although they managed to disappear, along with the other hors d’oeuvres.

Each year at the party, we raise money for a different charity. This year, we asked our guests to make an optional donation to breast cancer research. In honor of our charity, Megan found light pink M&Ms that I put out in crystal cocktail glasses. Then we also served Oreos, marshmallows and Hershey kisses to follow the theme. It was a classy affair made even fancier by the dress code. I requested black and/or white attire, no jeans.

The party took place on Saturday, December 15th, and Chicago had a horrible snowstorm that night. I remember looking out the window around 3 p.m. wondering if anyone would show up because of the weather. In the end though, I was impressed with the turn out. Inside we stood in my warm orange-spiced kitchen while a blizzard spun snow around us. I kept the keg on the porch so we never forgot how nice it was to be indoors. The room was filled with the scent of cloves and wine.

Most people drank sangria, except for those who braved the cold to get a beer from outside. We all raised our glasses and toasted to recent engagements, promotions and babies on the way. Our black and white outfits were decorated with light pink ribbons in the name of breast cancer research.

After most of the guests had left, I sat on the living room couch with my guy friends and my sister. We re-hashed the events of the night and counted the donations collected in my grandmother’s flower vase. We had $187 to donate to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It wasn’t a lot of money but it was something. I was proud of our efforts.

A few days ago, I received a letter from Avon thanking me for my donation, which got me thinking. In a world of marketplace monopolies and merging corporations, the significance of one person’s efforts is sometimes overlooked. But the actions of one person, or a small group of people acting in concert, can make a big impact.

In the New Year, we should encourage each other to act on those small ideas that keep bouncing around in our heads, instead of just keeping them to ourselves. Our thoughts have the potential to lead the future, to act as a catalyst for change or to motivate and inspire. Ghandi once said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” In my own small way, I tried to start off the year by being the change. I hope that more inspired Glass Hammer readers will write in to let us know about the ways in which they hope to make an impact in 2008.