Tag Archives: Parties

The Annual De-Gift and Re-Gift Party

Some of you might remember the Seinfeld episode where Tim Whattley re-gifts a label maker that Elaine Benes has given him. That dang thing ends up getting passed all over town. If you don’t remember, here’s a quick refresher:

Don’t remember that?

Well then surely you remember when Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer accidentally lands on “The Island of Misfit Toys,” where unwanted playthings with cosmetic or physical flaws live until the island’s ruler, King Moonracer, can find homes for them?

Why am I babbling about old label makers and effed up toys?

For several years now, the members of my neighborhood book club have gathered after the winter holidays and, in lieu of discussing a book, each of us brings one gift that is so freaking craptastic we just have to get it out of the house.

And give it to someone else.

You know, because one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.

Last night was our Annual De-Gift & Re-Gift Party.

After everyone ate their fill of yummy nom-noms and slurped down some wine, our host told us it was time to get to it. We circled her coffee table where all the bags of horror sat sagging in their repurposed wrapping paper. The rules for this year’s swap were quickly established.

Same as last year.

  • We would go in numeric order.
  • When it was someone’s turn to pick, that person could either select a new gift or steal a gift that had already been opened.
  • Once an item had been swapped three times, that item could no longer be stolen.
  • Don’t leave unwanted gifts at the host’s house. Or else.

Our host handed us numbers that she had scribbled on slips of yellow paper. I must have been born under a star or something because I got the highest number, which meant that I was going to see most, if not all, of the goods that came before it would be my turn to pick, thus ensuring my victory would be sweet.

Here’s how it went down.

Kate went first. Reaching into her bag, she revealed two pairs of holiday socks and the windshield scraper Santa might use on his car. You know, if he didn’t have a garage and the reindeer were tired, and Mrs. Claus needed to pick up a few items from Bed, Bath & Beyond up there at the North Pole.

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After she showed everyone her goods, Kate burst into laughter and confessed that she’d picked the gift she’d tried to dump on us brought to the table last year. Like the mythical holiday fruitcake, Kate’s bag o’crap had returned to her.

Bonnie wound up with some fabulous sunglasses and other sundry items. Every single item in her bag was solid gold. Unfortunately, they cannot be shown here. (Look, I am not a fool. And I know not to look one particular gift horse in the mouth.)

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Liz unwrapped a frog ring, which broke the instant she put it on her finger. But she also got the Wine Bottle Sock Monkey, which she assured us would make a great puppet for her sons to play with.

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Cindy #1 took home the enormous cranberry scented candle that thought it was a lamp. Seriously, check out that shade. The thing weighed eleventy-six tons. Look how excited Cindy is!

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Cindy #2 scored a pair of faux-gold earrings circa 1986. And look! She’s set for Valentine’s Day with the Spin-The-Bottle-Button.

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Lori got the Garden Gnome Salt & Pepper Shakers. I know that someone out there would love these. But probably not Lori.

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You cannot really appreciate the bedazzled, super glittery handles on the faboo 4-piece cheese spreader set that Mary Jo landed. At first, we thought the handles were filled with Goldschlager. But no. Everyone agreed the spreaders were very functional and stabby.

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Theresa selected a well-endowed snowman whose nether region consisted of three different color candles. When this fact was called to everyone’s attention, the embarrassed snowman promptly lost a leg. (Look at the poor snowman’s face!)

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I peed in my pants a little when I won the box of Whitman’s chocolates. I told you my ending was sweet! That’s called punny foreshadowing, people.

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No matter what we tossed in the donations pile brought home last night, we were all winners because caring is sharing. No. Because each time the members of book club get together, we learn more about each other. Once, I Tricked My Book Club Into Writing. (They forgave me.) So whether we yadda yadda yadda about books, share life lessons, or trade playthings from “The Island of Misfit Toys,” it is always a delight. I am blessed to have these women as neighbors and plan to enjoy our ever-evolving reindeer games for a long time.

Anyone else have non-book-related book-club traditions? What else do you do in your book club besides drink wine talk books?

tweet me @rasjacobson

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“Daddy, I Want a Vodka Tonic Nooooooow!”: When Underage Kids Demand Alcohol

Click to see more from Dave R. Farmer via WANA Commons

While attending a fancy-schmancy cocktail party before a big party, a gaggle of women wearing our prettiest dresses formed a loose circle to catch up. I stood closest to four women. We talked about apple picking and how a Trader Joe’s would soon be opening next door to our local TJ Maxx. We admired each other’s shoes and accessories, smiled and posed for pictures.

A stranger in a tight purple dress broke into our circle, and turned to one of the women I knew.

“Will you get me a drink?” Tight Purple Dress requested.

I wondered why she didn’t get her own drink.

And then I realized Tight Purple dress was Apple,* the 10th grade daughter of the woman she was addressing.

Let me tell you, Apple did not look like a fifteen-year-old girl.

Rather, she didn’t look like me when I was fifteen. When I was fifteen, I had frizzy hair and no boobs.

Apple had it goin’ on.

Apple’s mother shooed her away.

Because I am clueless, I didn’t know what the big deal was.

I figured if Apple was thirsty she could have a sip of my drink.

As I handed her my glass, Apple shot her mother a smug look. But after a quick swig, she pulled her mouth away from my drink with a frown.

“What is this?” Apple wrinkled up her face. “Sprite?”

“Ginger ale with lime.” I smiled, taking the glass back in my hands and jiggling it. “My signature drink.”

“I wanted…like, a vodka tonic or something.”

I shrugged and wiped her lipstick off the rim of my glass with a napkin.

Apple turned to her mother again.

“C’mon, mom. It’s a party.”

Apple’s mother turned her back to her daughter.

Good for her, I thought. She’s standing firm.

Meanwhile, Apple inserted herself into every conversation, asking every woman in the vicinity to please get her a drink from the bar.

The proposition was not enticing.

Photo from Sacks08 @ flickr.com

When Apple interrupted my conversation for the third time, I was pissed. Honestly, in that moment, I didn’t care if I made her feel less than.

I batted her away like an annoying little gnat. “Why don’t you go in the room with the DJ?” I suggested. “This is the adult cocktail hour.”

Undeterred, Apple flitted across the room where she found her father. I watched as he chatted it up with his buddies and, absently, handed his daughter his stubby glass filled with something.

I watched Apple polish off her father’s drink, and I tracked her as she made her way back toward her mother.

I figured she was sated.

Sucking on a piece of ice, Apple was relentless and started to beg again: “Mommy, will you get me a drink, now?”

Apple’s mother thrust her glass into her daughter’s manicured hand. “Take this and go!”

Women looked at their rings and adjusted their bracelets.

One woman caught Apple’s mother’s elbow. “What are you doing?”

“I’m doing what I need to do, so my kid will leave me alone and I can have a little fun.”

The circle broke apart then. Some women went to try the hors d’oeuvres that had been brought out; others went to find spouses. Some wandered toward the bathroom, ostensibly to check makeup.

And probably to chat about what had transpired.

I leaned against a wall, processing things.

When it comes to parenting, we do the best we can.

And raising children is not easy.

We all make decisions we wish that we could take back.

Meanwhile, I have watched this dance between Apple and her mother for a decade.

Photo from Roni Loren via WANA Commons

So where does this leave Apple?

Will she be a good Apple? Or rotten to the core?

Kids are programmed to test the limits set by the adults around them.

It’s their job.

But that’s when the adults in their lives are supposed to push them back and remind them where the boundaries are. You know, when they overstep.

So why do parents get stuck on the reminding about the limits part?

Because it’s not cool? Because it’s not fun? Because it’s exhausting?

Whatever.

Who cares if your kid hates you for a little while?

I don’t.

And Tech, if you are reading this if you suddenly feel the urge to drink something alcoholic while under the legal age, you probably shouldn’t come looking to your father. Or me.

But.

You can have as much ginger ale as you like. Bring your friends.

How would you react if your child asked you for alcohol in a public venue? Do you believe it is better to provide alcohol for your child (so you can oversee things) or that it is more important to uphold the law? Do you think Apple’s behavior is indicative of an emerging drinking problem or just harmless adolescent attention seeking? Am I over-reacting?

Tweet Me @rasjacobson

The Happy Hora

Hubby and I, up on the chairs in 1995. Do you not love my shoes?

In 1995, when my husband and I married, I remember dancing to the hora. At some point, someone brought out two chairs. As the traditional music played, we sat down as friends and family members held the legs of our chairs and raised us gently into the air, turned us in circles, together, my new husband and me. I remember staring at my husband from my chair. Noticing his wedding ring glinting on his finger, how foreign it looked.

Over the last several years, I’ve been to a lot more bar and bat mitzvahs than weddings. I’ve danced the hora at least nineteen-hundred forty-six bazillion times. To the uninitiated, the hora is a dance where everybody forms a circle and holds hands. You are supposed to step forward toward the right with the left foot, then follow with the right foot. The left foot is then supposed to be brought back, followed by the right foot. In my experience, almost no one dares to do the crisscross thing with their legs because dance floors are generally jammed so everyone mostly just goes around in circles.

Tech in the air!

At bar and bat mitzvahs, it is customary to raise the honoree, and sometimes his or her family members, on a chair during the hora.

The last time I sat in the chair was nearly seventeen years ago, when my husband and I were married.

Let me tell you something: the wedding hora is different from the b’nai mitzvah hora.

First of all, by definition, there are waaaaay more kids at a bar mitzvah than there usually are at a wedding.

I don’t think any of our friends had kids when we married so our wedding hora was pretty sedate.

During certain parts of the hora at my son’s bar mitzvah, I felt like I was in a mosh pit. All those circles going in all those directions. And then all that going in and going out. I was digging our DJ’s version of Hava Nagillah and feeling pleased that I was managing to move so easily in my four-inch heels when some kid gave me a pretty good elbow to the chin.

Whatever.

I wasn’t going to let a blow to the face ruin my night. In fact, I barely felt it.

As the mother of an only child, I knew I needed to pay attention. After all, my husband and I recognized this would be our one chance to experience everything. I watched friends pull a cushioned chair onto the dance floor. Surrounded by cheering friends and family members, Tech went first and made it look easy. He laughed and smiled as the strongest men in the room bounced him around in a circle.

“Hold on, Mom!” Tech warned as we traded places.

Holy shizzlesticks.

I now understand why some friends had warned me before the fact:

I don’t know who was holding the legs of my chair but who put all the tall guys on one side and all the short guys on the other? I was positively crooked. At one point, I bounced so high off my seat, I thought I was going to have an emergency landing.

Listen, I have no fear of being lifted by people who are scampered. I just wasn’t prepared for the “let’s-try-to-eject-the-momma-from-the-chair” thing that was happening beneath me.

This video is every Jewish mother’s nightmare:

Someone snapped this picture and posted it on Facebook.

Waiting for the ride to be over.

Someone asked me: “What were you thinking about while you were up there?”

You wanna know know what I was thinking?

That I needed to keep my legs together like two tightly twisted vines.

Because there would be no “junk” showing at my son’s bar mitzvah.

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat.

That night, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I am pretty sure I was radiating something close to pure joy.

All day, my son amazed me with his comport, his flexibility, and composure; I could have danced all night.

And once I got off that chair, I did.

What is the happiest dance you ever remember doing?

Sucked Into Sleazy Halloween Costumes

Back in 2009

This blog entry by Kathy English, author of “Mom Crusades” is one of the best articles I’ve read on how Halloween costumes have morphed from simple, home-made creations into an entire industry of expensive outfits.

And when it comes to girls’ (and women’s) costumes well, let’s just say the choices are sometimes downright skanky!

For those of you who don’t know me  — and for those of you who do, before I am accused of being a total hypocrite — I have to confess, I kind of like displaying my inner naughty-girl on Halloween.

Hubby and I like to throw costume parties every few years and I have been a naughty teacher (typecast?), a St. Pauli Girl, a French Maid, even a slutty pirate. Once I wore a really short toga.

A. Really. Short. Toga.

Here’s why:

On Halloween 1999, a mere two months after my son was born, hubby and I decided to go with a “family theme” — you know, because I was about 50 pounds heavier than I was accustomed to weighing.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

My husband was a farmer – complete with red flannel shirt and overalls – our baby was a cute little heifer, and I … I was a big, fat momma cow (complete with over-sized, pink, rubber udders).

Oh. My. Gosh.

Never did I feel less attractive. I really felt like a cow. The fact that I had to go upstairs and actually pump breast milk in the middle of the evening did not help things. As I sat attached to my industrial strength Medela pump, I vowed to never again wear something on Halloween that made me feel unfeminine.

So while I philosophically agree with Kathy’s blog 100%, I am not going to be a hobo with facial hair for Halloween.

What is the best costume you ever wore for Halloween? Or what’s the least appropriate costume you’ve ever seen on an adult? Describe it in detail!

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Sucked Into Slutty Halloween Costumes

This blog entry by Kathy English, author of the amazing blog “Mom Crusades” is one of the best articles I’ve read on how Halloween costumes have morphed from simple, home-made creations into an entire industry of expensive outfits. And when it comes to girls’ (and women’s) costumes well, let’s just say the choices are sometimes downright skanky!

For those of you who don’t know me (and for those of you who do, before I am accused of being a total hypocrite), I have to confess, I’m kind of known for displaying my inner slut on Halloween. Hubby and I like to throw costume parties every few years and I have been a naughty teacher (typecast?), a St. Pauli Girl, a French Maid, even a slutty pirate. Once I wore a really short toga. A. Really. Short. Toga.

Here’s why:

On Halloween 1999, a mere two months after my son was born, hubby and I decided to go with a “family theme” — you know, because I was about 50 pounds heavier than I was accustomed to weighing. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My husband was a farmer – complete with red flannel shirt and overalls – our son was a cute little heifer, and  I … I  was a big, fat momma cow (complete with over-sized, pink, rubber udders).

Oh. My. Gosh. Never did I feel less attractive. I really felt like a cow personified. The fact that I had to go upstairs and actually pump breast milk in the middle of the evening did not help things. As I sat attached to my industrial strength Medela pump, I vowed to never again wear something on Halloween that made me feel unfeminine.

So I agree with Kathy’s blog 100% . . . but I am not going to be a hobo with facial hair for Halloween.

What is the best costume you ever wore for Halloween?