This is the 17th year for the Christmas dinner. It started with an idea the Kern family had after attending a similar Thanksgiving function in Nevada. The Kern family decided they could do the same thing for El Dorado Springs at Christmas and started making plans to prepare Christmas dinner. Many people celebrate with family and friends before or after the actual holiday and that left them alone on Christmas Day.
People weren’t quite sure, in the beginning, what to expect. Were they being invited to dinner to be converted? Were they going to get there and be expected to give a donation to help pay for their meal? Was the meal for the “poor”? No, no and no. They were invited to dinner-that’s it. The Kern’s intention was to invite anyone who was alone that day, for whatever reason, to come and eat with them. There was never a charge to the guests and the only “religion” was a prayer before the meal.
The Kerns paid for all of the groceries and prepared the meals. The Church of Christ let them use their kitchen and fellowship room. It was a small crowd for that first dinner with just Barbara, Bradie, Connie and Karen and their grandchildren and Bill, Lynda and Chuck Bishop and about five guests.
Barbara and Bradie invited the Bishops to help that first year, and that was a good thing because Bradie and Barb ended up moving to Jefferson City for Barb’s job. Bill and Lynda thought it was too good an idea to abandon. They decided to try preparing the dinner themselves the next year, with help from Jim and Myrtle Spencer. Lynda and Myrtle did the cooking and Bill and Jim did the running. The four managed to carry on Barb and Bradie’s tradition for a few more years.
Jim and Myrtle brought up the idea to make the meal delivery for Meals on Wheels that day. Jim said the Senior Center had to send out frozen dinners for the days the Center is closed. The delivery would give them a hot meal that they didn’t have to prepare. The guys made deliveries to the home bound and that tradition continues today. While the purpose of the dinner was to get people together, people could call to have a meal delivered when they were unable to get out. They could call for a ride if they didn’t have a car or if the weather was bad. This aspect of the dinner kept the men busy.
The Church of Christ elders approached the Bishops about helping with the cost of the meal. They volunteered to pay for the groceries if Bill and Lynda would continue to be in charge. Church members volunteered to make pies, cakes, salads, vegetable casseroles, candies, etc. The young girls made Christmas cards to put in the take-out meals, decorated the tables and helped with drinks. Volunteers did dishes, swept floors, thawed pipes, searched for fuse boxes and stood by to do anything asked of them.
After 15 years the Bishops decided to retire. They want to spend more time with the grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the east coast. Joe and Veda Barger agreed to take over the dinner in 2011. With the help of their family and friends, they served approximately 65 guests and prepared 18 meals to be delivered.
The Annual Christmas Dinner grew from the Kern family, friends and five guests to approximately 90 meals served on Christmas Day 2012. The atmosphere was one of family and friends having a good time. There was hugs, laughter, and compliments on the meal. One of the guests said to Bill and Lynda, “When you get to Heaven, Jesus is going to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” I think Bradie Kern would qualify for that.
Joe and Veda Barger and Bryan Cloyd
Macie and McKinli Mays
Myrtle Spencer and Madi Mays
Bill and Linda Bishop