Holidays can be the best of times or the worst of times. But there’s no doubt that ’tis the season for parties. And the office holiday party has often suffered bad press. YSI had its holiday party last Friday night and it was testimony that “office” parties can represent the “best of times”.
Our annual party is a little quaint and old-fashioned in glitzy, modern terms. It is traditionally held at Sanborn Park in the gloriously-rustic stone house that is home to YSI. This house has probably witnessed many a party over the years. On the broad, covered porch the wide rails and deep windowsills were festooned with evergreens, pine cones and red-berried toyon. A bowl of persimmons from the garden stood spotlighted on a glass case just inside the door of the two-story main room. The fire in the gigantic fireplace with its cozy glass-doored stove blazed merrily warming every nook and cranny. On the mantle pine cones and fresh redwood boughs from the surrounding woods glittered with miniature lights.
Platters of heavenly cheeses, quiche and stuffed mushrooms–pre-dinner snacks–began to appear on exhibit cases. New faces, familiar faces, from Alum Rock, Vasona, Sanborn arrived. Staff members, volunteers, children. The kids disappeared into the reptile room or the insect zoo, great built-in party entertainment! Friends, fiancés, spouses, were introduced and pleasant chatter soared to the rafters.
In the kitchen, party-goers unpacked their baskets of dinnerware and put finishing touches on heavenly potluck creations for the buffet. A homemade bay wreath decorated the door, echoing trees in the park. Cider and beer, wine and water arrived and landed in jumbled array on a kitchen counter.
In the geology wing off the main room frosted bell-shaped pendant lights cast a soft glow much as they did when the house was built seventy-five years ago. It was there on a table in the middle of the room that, one by one, platters, bowls, tureens, and casseroles began to appear. Little by little they were pushed closer together until every inch was filled.
Dinner was a repast with unparalleled variety. Spectacular casseroles, spicy dal, soothing mashed potatoes and gravy, succulent sushi, poached salmon, salads, breads, soups–foods representing dozens of regions and nations–left everyone with only just enough room for the sweets that glowed on a case along side.
The evening flowed like water in a gentle stream. A few ventured out for a hike following trails made familiar in daylight. Not even the crescent of a moon diminished the brilliance of the stars in the crisp winter night. The park, sheltered from city lights by a shadowy ridge, lay quiet except for the rustle of deer and hoot of an owl.
Finally all was packed away. We headed home knowing we will return, either singly or together. And we invite you to join us.
YSI and the parks they are in are yours too. Visit them. They have a way of tempering the worst of times and providing the best.
YSI’s staff at all three sites welcomes you over the holidays. Call for hours.
YSI Alum Rock Park, (408) 258-4322
YSI Sanborn Park, (408) 867-6940
YSI Vasona Park, (408) 356-4945