In case you saw the title and are expecting a post about jam, let me stop you before you go any farther.  This post has nothing to do with that kind of marmalade.  This post is about a different kind of Marmalade.  Marmalade with a capital “M”.  Let me back up and start at the beginning.

I married my husband in August of 2000.  There are hundreds of posts waiting to be written about that whole event…but not today.  After our wedding I wanted to cling to the people who had stood next to us and celebrated with us.  My thought was, literally, “I don’t want to look back at my wedding pictures in ten years and not be friends with these people.”  So I had a group of my close friends over for dinner one night.  Then then next month I had the same group of girls over for dinner again.  Then I did it again the next month, only this time I said, “Hey, guys, what would you think about making our monthly dinner gathering a regularly scheduled event?”  They all agreed, we named our little group “Marmalade”, and we’ve been meeting together once a month for almost eleven years.  The End.

Just kidding.

There’s so much more I want to tell you.  Soooooo much.  I dug deep into my Marmalade memory box last week and found these non-digital gems.  {Yes, I had to take pictures of pictures to make this work.}  They tell the story best…

This was our original group the first two times we met, before we had a name or a scheduled meeting date.

The third time we met together, I put together an orange and white booklet {I had no children at the time and worked at a custom stationary store}.  It was a bit over the top, but that’s how I tend to be.

Five pages…geez.  But it was pretty cute, right?  In this little booklet I shared my idea for turning our monthly dinners into something more.

My friend Kellie and I were at Pottery Barn together one afternoon trying to come up with name ideas.  I was looking at one of their party music CDs and saw the song Lady Marmalade.  ”Hey, Kellie.  What about calling it Marmalade?”  The name stuck.  There’s no special meaning.  It’s just fun to say.

We decided our standing date would be the first Thursday of every month.

We also agreed to rotate hosting duties.  If it was your month to host Marmalade, you had to do three things:  Invite, Include Dinner, and Invent the Evening.

The host is in charge of feeding everyone.  That could mean cooking a gourmet meal or ordering pizza.  Over eleven years, we’ve done it all.  The host also is in charge of deciding what the focus of the evening would be.  This might mean setting aside time for someone to share about a significant event.  Or maybe we answer pre-determined questions {“If you got married today, what would your wedding dress look like?”}.  Or maybe there’s no agenda and we all just hang out and catch up.  Whatever it is, the host decides.  The last responsibility of the host is to invite everyone and let them know when and where we were meeting that month.  Today, we “invite” via very casual emails.  But in the beginning, we were very elaborate.  We made printed invitations and had themes for each month’s gathering.  See for yourself…

This was the invitation and a few pictures from our Pink Party.  Everyone wore pink.  All the food was pink-ish.

This was our Flower Power Party.  Everyone dressed up as hippies.  Dessert was served in flower pots.

These are some of the handmade invitations that Scottie sent out from her months of hosting…a Blackberry Picking Party, a Hat Party, and a Family Potluck.

I hosted an Indoor Picnic Party and packed everyone’s dinner in individual baskets…

…a French Party and printed the menu in English and French…

…and a Thanksgiving Party, complete with cornbread dressing and two kinds of pie.  Some of us had to lie down after the meal.  There were also events like a Scavenger Hunt, an Ice Cream Social, a Fiesta, a Pajama Party, and on, and on, and on…BUT, my favorite theme from the old days?

Jennifer’s White Trash Party.  We all dressed up and wore things like black bras under white tank tops, trashy mini skirts, cut-off shirts, and teased hair.  Someone even showed up barefoot and pregnant.  For dinner Jennifer served boiled hot dogs, bean dip, and other gas station food.

She mailed us all a xeroxed hand-written invitation on her dad’s State Farm stationary with his letterhead scratched out.  It was hilarious.

Are we a trashy bunch or what?

The twelve of us were able to maintain this pace for a couple of years before someone finally spoke up and said she didn’t think she could continue as a part of the group given our current track.  It’s all fun and games until someone decides to leave.  Quick as a wink, we all wised up and realized the point of this group was not to throw elaborate dinner parties.  The point was {and always has been} intentional community.

We regrouped and did away with themes and fancy invitations.  We got down to the business of making it a priority to just be together.  There are some of us in this group who’s daily lives intersect more than others, and would probably still be friends today without Marmalade.  But for the most part, the only time when all of us all see each other is on the first Thursday of every month.  Most of our friendships would have most likely died on the vine without something like Marmalade to keep us connected.

The group has changed over eleven years.  People have moved away from Fort Worth, moved back to Fort Worth, or both.  We’ve added new people as other people have transitioned away, a process that could have potentially ended the whole thing but somehow managed to knit us closer together.

We’ve celebrated a wedding together {the black-and-white theme was unplanned}.  We have stood beside each other through marriage difficulties, walked together through the loss of loved ones…

…and had lots and lots of babies.  Eleven years ago there were six kids among the twelve of us.  Today there are thirty-six.  Pregnancy announcements were a frequent occurance for a lot of years, and without fail we used to talk about childbirth every time we met.  These days we talk about sun damage and how to talk to our kids about sex.

Gosh.  I feel like I have only scratched the surface.  I want to tell you more…but I think I will stop here today.  Mostly, I just wanted you to know what I’m talking about when you hear me reference Marmalade.  More than a mom’s group.  Never a sorority.  Full of adventure and variety.  A constant source of life.  It’s community, convivium, a collection of memories.  And it happens on the first Thursday of every month.

Do you have a group of your own?  Thinking you should start one?  I’d love to hear your ideas and questions…

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9 Responses to Marmalade

  1. Pingback: Friday Pie-Day {Peach} | katherine sasser

  2. Sarah Rothwell says:

    Miss you girls so much!

  3. Sarah wolfe says:

    Love being a part of this group. Truly a blessing over all these years.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I can’t believe it’s been that many years and that, collectively, we have THAT many children. Time for a photo of them all, don’t you think? The fall…for sure. Thank you, Katherine, for always making sure it stayed a priority!

  5. Sandra Sasser says:

    Loved it! You’ve told me “Marmalade” but this gives it a whole new light! Thanks! It’s GREAT!

  6. TJ Wilson says:

    Oh man, makes me want to make cute invites for my next one! And – I remember announcing a pregnancy on that swing with Vicky – which babe? Basden? Love going down memory lane, and you captured M well – not an easy task. Grateful for these dear, dear friends!

  7. Beth says:

    Thanks for capturing the essence of Marmalade so well! What fun to look back at the memories–11 years, really??? Love you, friend.

  8. Rachelle says:

    I don’t get to meet with all my bridesmaids as often as I’d like as we are very spread out. However, I remember having the same thought of “I don’t want to not know these people ten years from now.” I have been able to keep in touch with all but one, and she is in Kenya.

  9. Ashlee Mason says:

    Love it and love many of the amazing ladies in Marmalade. This inspires me to be more intentional in my relationships with my friends!

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