Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Party

Saturday night was our annual Christmas party with our sunday school class. (I was going to write s.s. class because the words sunday school make me feel like I'm 6 again, but s.s. sounds a bit Nazi-ish so we'll stick with the former.) As stated in the previous post, we host everyone at our house for the potlucks to end all potlucks with everyone bringing their signature dish. Terri's ham, Dan with any kind of beef, Kristi's pineapple stuffing, Faith's mac and cheese, Pam's vegetables, Ashley's chocolate dessert, you get the idea. So. Much. Food.

And after eating we gather 'round the family room for the "gift" exchange. The only rule is that it should be no more than $5 so it usually ends up being crap that's lying around your house that you want to get rid of. You have your obligatory scented candles and your stuffed animals, etc. The ones that get the laughs like the fart machine, the Toasty Wrap (a generic snuggie), the garden gnome (which has a long and storied past that I won't go into detail here but his fame spreads far and wide clear down to Florida...hey Aytons!), and of course..."The Head." I've gotta add that the biggest laugh was a few years ago when Ashley pulled out of a gift bag this gigantic rack of deer horns and as she was holding it up and looking it over with a very curious stare, Faith yells out, "Nice rack, Ashley!"

But anyway..."The Head" is this seriously ugly speckled ceramic head that Rob found years ago when cleaning out a deserted building at our church property. (I know...really.) This thing has been passed around for years and nobody wants to pick up a heavy box or gift bag for fear that you've now inherited "The Head".

Well, it was Phil's turn to pick a gift and he got a bit concerned with how heavy it was. But as he tore off the wrapping paper and opened the box out came a sign that stated, "A Wonderful Dinner for Two." The next sign, "Step 1 Use this rub on some beef, chicken, or pork. Slap it on the grill and cook it how you like." Cool...he'd gotten the gift from Dan who is famous in these parts for his homemade bbq sauce and his prowess on the grill. Next sign, "Step 2 Use this BBQ sauce to complete the meal and make it delicious!" All right! Final sign with a tealight candle taped to it, "Step 3 Light the candle, put it under "The Head" and enjoy the romance." Aw man...That's right. Underneath all the tissue paper was "The Head". So now begins the creative thinking in order to disguise it in next year's exchange.

The gift that was fought over the most? Two tickets for a dinner of wings over at Bud and Paula's house to watch an Eagles game with them. And this is quite the experience if you've never been with Bud during an Eagles game. There are pre-game songs, the jumping on the couch for a touchdown dance, the Eagles fight song with arms flapping like wings, and the volume...oh, the volume. You will never see or hear anything like it. And it was a hot item.

Bobby and Emily added a new game this year that was bit like Taboo and then ends in charades. I'll just say that thanks to Kristi, "Herbie the Elf" will now become a tradition that will be passed for years to come.

The party ended a bit before midnight but my "party" is still going on. One more tradition that started years ago? As people leave, some hide the "gifts" that they don't want (ie the crap) in places all over my house so for days I find little treasures everywhere. Darn you, Rob.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas In NYC

Phil flew home from London on Tuesday night and then hopped on a train early Wed. morning for a couple of days of meetings in New York. We decided I'd take a train up on Friday morning and meet him for a fun day in NYC. (Although the phrase "fun day in NYC" does not usually come out of the mouth of Phil.) He hates NYC. Must've been the 2 hour + commuting each morning and night for a couple of years that jaded him. Go figure...

Regardless, I got on the 9:14 am express train on Friday that got me in to Penn Station around 10:30 am. And the obvious that hit me (literally, actually) as I stood in the taxi line? I picked the coldest day of the year so far to come to NYC. They said it wasn't getting over 30 degrees but the wind chill made it feel like 9. Yep...9 degrees. And I think that was even generous.

I met Phil at the hotel he was staying at near Rockefeller Plaza. After finishing up one more work call, we bundled up (and here I add that yes, I may have looked like a dork with my ski headband covering my ears, but I was willing to sacrifice my fashion-sense for non-frozen ears), and made our way to the big tree in Rockefeller Plaza. It's a big tree. Didn't spend too much time looking at it, though, 'cause as I said before, it felt like 9 degrees outside.

We went into a COSI to warm up and get something hot to drink and a little snack. Mmmm...hot mulled cider and a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. A little taste of heaven. We made it into our seats for the 1:00 pm show of Radio City Music Hall's Rockettes. What a fun show. Loved it.

After the show we went to a late lunch at Del Frisco's for some of the best filet mignon I've had in a while. So good. And the salad, the warm bread, the mashed potatoes, and the strawberry cheesecake...I think you could've rolled me out of there. Our last stop before grabbing a cab to back to Penn Station? Just across the street to Magnolia's Bakery which is well-known for their cupcakes. So with a 6-pack of cupcakes in a carry-out box we made our way back to the train station.

And I'm glad to report that a near-disaster was avoided when I nodded off somewhere before our stop in Trenton and the rustling of the plastic bag alerted me to the fact that our cupcakes were headed to a collision with the floor of the train. The cupcakes were saved and all was fine.

And tonight? We are hosting our annual Christmas party with our Sunday School class. Everyone brings their signature dish and we have the potluck to end all potlucks. Seriously...so much food. And the highlight? The "gift" exchange with a cost limit of $5...or in other words, what crap do you have laying around your house that you'd love to get rid of. Should be a fun night.