A few of my favorite things occured today; the temperature was UNDER 80 degrees, the humidity was low, there was a cool breeze blowing and U.S. G.I.R.L.S. book club meeting was on the Oceanfront!!
Celeste, Our hostess reserved an intimate space in One Ocean Resort on Atlantic Beach which was the perfect setting befitting our fall meeting for the discussion of Toni Morrison's newest offering, God Help The Child.
The bar style table seating was set perfectly with flowers, Breast Cancer Awareness totes (with goodies inside, but we will get to that later), balloons and hats. It was festive, yet the theme of women supporting women (Think Pink) for a cause was not overshadowed.
Celeste greeted the ladies individually with smiles and hugs as we entered the venue and ooooooo'd and ahhhhh'd over the roomy space, decor and expansive ocean view.
Once everyone was seated, Roz asked that we "touch" the lady next to us as she offered up an inspirational and moving blessing not only for our meal, but for our discussion, health and well-being.
The staff immediately brought out "appetizers" of Fish Tacos and Flatbread. I use the term appetizers loosely because the portions were ample and the flavor was bountiful. As the starters were being admired and consumed, the staff took our entree orders. Celeste had the Chef prepare a Green Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette and several entree selections to choose from: First Coast Crab Cakes, Chipotle Chicken Club and Atlantic Sword Fish, and they were all delectable!!
Celeste prepared over 35 questions to challenge our intellect and drive the discussion from topics of child abuse and neglect to body imagery. As in all of her novels, Toni Morrison pack a HUGE punch in this book (of less than 200 pages) with her themes of colorisim, racism, and humanism. This was the author's 1st "present day" novel, so we were all anxious to voice our opinions.
Roz came out of the gate "swinging" addressing Toni Morrision's theme of a child struggling for parental love and acceptance by society (mainly the African-American society) because of skin hues. She shared personal stories that gave this novel credibility.
Celeste kept the dialogue moving with various talking points - JayBee (who everyone knows simply loves a good metaphor) brought up Ms. Morrison's subtle interjection of rainfall each time there was a family separation - Bonnie discussed in detail the thin line Ms. Morrison drew between realism and fantasy - Valerie commented on the importance of professional therapy for childhood trama - Ka Saundra (a legal professional) touched on children and courtroom testimonies - Sharron elaborated on trying to "right" sins of our past and the healing process - Lisa discussed the issues various ethnicities have with their own hues - Celestial discussed the issues of cultural appropriation and how the former NAACP leader, Rachel Dolezal was outed by her parents for NOT being African-American and Jackie brought in some of her thoughts about Brooklyn ahd her identity crisis...did she in fact want to BE Bride? We think she did.
After our discussion, the staff presented each guest with two beautifully plated dessert shooters with edible garnish. There was strawberry shortcake and key lime pie and both were yummie!!
Celeste then presented each member and guest with a Breast Cancer Awareness Tote. Remember I told you we would get to the contents? Well inside was not one, but two cleverly designed 2016 calendars!! One for the wall and the other for our desks. The amazing part is that Celeste used a totally different set of photos for each calendar. Jackie was excited to see that Celeste included a month that featured "frequent" guests. There was also gourmet popcorn in the bags for us to enjoy later.
As we exited the meeting space, with our pink bags, ballons and inspirational glows, we were stopped numerous times by resort staff and guests (with smiles and tears) expressing how their loved ones were either recently diagnosed with breast cancer, in recovery, or recently transitioned. Regardless, they were all appreciative of our display of support and awareness. It was a very touching moment for all of us, and it was difficult not to get emotional.
Thank you Celeste for our amazing aquatic meeting at One Ocean Resort. We loved every minute of it!!