This is the time of year when all my fellow authors trot out their special recipes and I just trot out my appetite. I shiver and shake when sites request a tradition or recipe or favorite memory, certain that my holidays, while precious to me, will be so boring to others. No one trusts me with anything more complicated than green bean casserole and one of my most memorable Christmases was when the tree died and I was afraid to let the kids turn on the lights, afraid it would burst into flames. Fifteen minutes after we brushed the needles off the presents and opened them I said to my husband, “Get it out of here!”
But wait. About ten years ago my husband and I joined a dinner club. I know, I know. Based on what I said earlier about recipes, this must fill you with doubt. Eight couples hosted each other monthly, so I had to come up with a dinner roughly one and a half times a year. Needless to say, I always had to have help. I somehow managed to pull it off. After about four years our Dinner Club accidentally discovered that there were only two out of eight couples who actually liked to cook and were good at it. But we had so much fun together! We ultimately disbanded, meeting for dinner out now and then.
But no one wanted to give up our favorite Dinner Club gathering — the Christmas Ornament exchange. Everyone brought an hors ‘d oeuvres, bottle of wine and an ornament.
After visiting, gossiping, lubricating with wine, chomping down some delicious snacks (we usually had to draw names to see who would get to bring the artichoke dip – it was easy to make), we settled in for the exchange. All are wrapped. We draw numbers. #1 chooses a package and opens an ornament. #2 can steal #1’s or open a new one. If your ornament is stolen, you get a new one. Ornaments can be stolen only three times, then they’re safe. #1 is pretty much screwed. The selling of numbers has been known to happen. There is bartering, begging, hiding, trading. The ornaments range from beautiful to precious to ridiculous to gross. It is hilarious!
The ornaments I am now in possession of include a ceramic pickle, a breast (yes, a breast), a ball that sings Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, Jesus in a manger, an elf giving the finger, another pickle and a pair of shoes. I had to really fight for the singing ball and the shoes.
Yes, I am only assigned the green bean casserole, but I have my traditions. Laughter and good friends. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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