On Christmas Eve, we went to my sister's house for snack foods and wine tasting and game playing. I appreciate Sis taking it upon herself to host such a shindig. Being the former-mayor's wife has prepared her well. She is unflappable, able to get her smorgasbord laid out on schedule, and all the dirty dishes washed or hidden upon the arrival of the guests.
The menu included a variety of chips and dips, chicken wings, little smokies, taquitos, salad, hot wing dip, pizza snacks, mini bread bowls with spinach dip, sandwich wraps, a veggie tray, sugar cookies, peanut butter/hershey kiss cookies, and homemade candies such as peanut butter cups, caramel pecan turtles, cherry coconut thingies, vanilla and chocolate bonbons, pretzels topped with a kiss topped with an M&M, and peanut butter haystack dealybobbers. I am stuffed all over again just typing it.
The wine tasting was the same as years past. I, myself, do not imbibe. That doesn't put a crimp in Jovial H's style. The Ex-Mayor brings out bottles of wine he has collected, and the imbibers swirl them around in little glasses and then pretty much chug them and try another. All was going well, with blackberry ruling the evening, followed by pinot noir (pronounced around Hillmomba as peanut nor), then mixed berry that smelled like plums (I am the official wine sniffer). The party came to a screeching halt when Ex-Mayor's bro took a sip of St. James Pink Catawba. Not to dog on a local Missouri wine, but that stuff did not even smell good. Granted, it had been opened last year and lolled about the Ex-Mayor's fridge since then. Let's just say that it did not age well. Or perhaps they did not enjoy it last year, either, since so much was left in the bottle.
In true Newmentia lunch table fashion, Bro proffered the bottle to his wife, and urged, "Try that. It's terrible!" So of course she poured a glass and sipped. "Yuck! Here, taste that!" The Ex-Mayor held up the bottle, spun it around, announced "Pink Catawaba," and poured himself a glass. He frowned. "That's not good. Here, Imbiber H. Try it. I'll give you that to take home and hide from the #1 son. I guarantee one sneak of that stuff, and he won't want to drink." Imbiber H showed remarkable restraint in only pouring about an inch of Pink Catawba into his glass. He swilled. "Nope. That's not any good." The top was screwed back on the bottle. For all I know, Pink Catawba was stored away for another year, to earn sour faces again next Christmas Eve. The imbibers returned to the mixed berry for another round.
Then it was time for the games. I was hoping to have an advantage, what with joining the children and my mom in sobriety, but Bro's Wife must have lubricated her brain with that Catawba. She edged me out in the Complete The Christmas Fill-In-The-Blank In 90 Seconds game. I did not help myself by answering Snow White and Egg White in place of Snow Man and Egg Nog.
Everybody got a prize in the Pass The Package Left And Right game. We all received a gift bag that was stapled shut. Sis read us a story about Santa and his trust elf, Lefty. After much passing left and right, Bro's Wife ended up with the package I had started with and coveted. It was Bath and Body Works spritzer and soap. Darn her for showing up this year! Some unfortunate previous engagement kept her out of town last year, so the prizes were all mine for the picking. Unlike this year, when I won two wordsearch puzzle books on celebrities like Billy Graham, Redd Foxx, Jonas Salk, and Rosa Parks. At least Sis could have found me some celebrities from this century.
The Unwrap The Tightly-Wrapped-In-Multiple-Layers Gift While Wearing Gloves was won by the Ex-Mayor. I call shenanigans! He won the $10 Sonic Gift Card. As The Pony stated upon its unwrapping, him being the last one to touch it before its reveal, "That would buy five Route 44 sodas."
We divided into teams to play Draw Five Christmas Carols For Your Team To Guess And Then Sing Them. We had five people per team, five slips of paper with the carols, and each had to take a turn at drawing for the teammates to guess. I drew We Wish You A Merry Christmas, with a clue of a wishbone shooting out of a turkey's breast. Bro's Wife drew Joy to the World, with the earth and a smiley face. My mom drew Away in a Manger with a person looking out a door in a house. Except that Savant H guessed it, having the same skewed drawing perspective as she, and recognizing that it was Jesus in a manger. Savant H drew Deck the Halls with a rectangular present crisscrossed with ribbon, though Bro's Wife deciphered that it was a house with halls. Ex-Mayor's Ma drew Silent Night, which we guessed in three stars. As the winning team, we each got a golden plastic medal on a red/white/blue velcroed ribbon.
The last game is the one that sticks in my craw. We were summoned to the kitchen, where Sis slapped a Hello, I'm ____________ tag on our backs. Then we had to ramble about the kitchen peninsula and table, asking each other YES or NO questions until we deciphered our own identity. I did not win. I was beat out by Wise Man, the grand prize winner, and Poinsettia, and several others. I was steered onto the wrong track by my own mother (I'm shaking my clenched fist even now) and was one of the last three people to learn who I was. It went a little something like this:
Can you eat me?
Am I alive?
Am I an animal?
Am I a plant?
Do kids love me?
Oh, YES! Especially tonight. (Notice that Mom embellished the YES)
Do visions of me dance in children's heads?
Do they have me at school?
(At this point, I decided that I must be snow. It was falling heavily at the time)
Am I white?
Do you make things out of me in the front yard?
(I cornered Sis, since my questioning of Mom and The Pony and #1 was getting me nowhere)
"So far, I have discovered that I'm not alive, you can't eat me, kids love me, I'm not found at school, sometimes I'm white, nobody dreams about me, and you don't make things out of me."
Sis got a funny look. "Kids love you?"
Am I a decoration?
Do I light up?
Do you hang me?
Can I catch fire?
Then it hit me.
I WAS A FREAKIN' CANDLE!!!
Loved by kids in burn wards all over. I have no idea what Mom was doing when she said kids loved me. So I asked her to do some explaining. "Well, earlier tonight, during supper, I was sitting at the table with the kids, and they kept sticking their hands into the flame to see how long they could hold it there."
Sigh. At least I guessed my identity before she did, stupid Manger. And before Pony the Stocking. But after #1 son Holly, and the most misnamed player in the history of Christmas games: HH the ANGEL.