Tiggy, aka Christine, is one of those unfortunate people whose birthdays fall near Christmas. Every. Single. Year. And for good measure, Tiggy's comes just days after the holiday, when every person in their right mind is sick to death of parties, sweets, and festivities, and also has no more money. But this year, I found her birth date most convenient.
It is a firm tradition in our family to hold an ornament exchange party for the kids every year. We even did it our last year in California when the only people who attended were us (see encyclopedia entry for most pathetic party ever). That is our level of commitment, but this year there was simply no way for me to squeeze it in before Christmas.
See, I'm still trying to adapt to being a working mom; I finally figured out that I was plannning to accomplish just as much each day as I did when I was staying home all the time. The result is that I schedule about a full day's extra tasks each day. This does not help my party planning abilities at all!
Tiggy was kind enough to step into the breach and allow her December 29th birthday to become an ornament exchange/ birthday party. And, due to the presence of ice out back, we added a skating party into the mix. I drew the line at Tiggy's idea of having a costume party too, however....that just seemed like too much.
As befits a more mature lady, Tiggy was given a budget and instructed to buy her own party supplies. Good thing her parents are starting this now, that's all I have to say! Anyway, Tiggy discovered what all juveniles learn when they spend their own moola---things cost more than you think! As a consequence, the pinata was returned to its shelf at Walmart. No problem, we made our own out of a soda box and wrapping paper.
At last the day arrived. We were a little concerned about the ice, as the weather had been quite warm, but the kind father of some of our guests checked it out and deemed one end of the pond safe for play; the other end was guarded by the same kind parents. The kids had a great time skating and sliding on the ice. We had inner tubes for the non-skaters to use. I, myself, was unable to skate because I was in the kitchen preparing watery, tasteless soup. Not that I am still bitter about my lack of culinary success...
Tiggy looking graceful...
Tiggy looking...not graceful...
After the skating, it was time for the pinata. In the interest of NOT freezing to death our guests, I tried to have that go as quickly as possible. Everyone was wet and cold from the ice; the youngest guest, a young lady of about 5 years, kept loudly demanding to go inside because she was missing the birthday party.
After everyone had a turn blindfolded, I let each person take a whack at it without the blindfold. Some of them seemed to do better when they couldn't see! Tiggy was supposed to be the last one, who would be able to beat the pinata to death, but Caleb, not knowing his own strength, hit the pinata so hard that it burst open, spraying candy shrapnel in all directions (including up the nose of one of our guests!). Tiggy was not pleased.
Then it was inside for a meal that was warm. At least you could say that for it! Normally, I make a good pot of "chicken" noodle soup, but this time I neglected to taste it before serving. Turns out that in adding enough water for the large pot, I left flavor far, far behind. And nobody had the grace to tell me, either. And of course, I didn't eat until everyone else had been served. Not that I am still bitter. No, I am much too mature to let little, temporary things like that affect my equilibrium.
At least the cake was...intact. The fact that it resembled a bomb was in no way significant. Anyone with a particle of discernment could tell that it was an ornament.
We exchanged our ornaments, Tiggy opened her presents, and then it was time for my favorite part of the evening. After a little speech on the importance of giving at Christmas time, the kids got to help decorate a special little tree for the cats. The family felines had NOT approved of company, and they had been very sad all season because they were not allowed in the big Christmas tree. So it was fitting that they be given a little treat of their own.
We strung popcorn we'd made previously at my parents' house (I put that in because I don't want you to think that hideous yellow checked wallpaper is mine!), put up bells and catnip ornaments, and hung Tiggy's special "gingerbread" cookies. If you want the recipe, it's quite easy. Simply place ordinary sugar cookies in the oven, sneak off to play on the computer, then have your aunt take them out about 45 minutes later. Then drill a hole in each of them with the drill press, string ribbon and hang.
The cats loved their little tree, but didn't really play with it much until after the company cleared out. Once they got started though...It was their first experience with catnip, and they found it thoroughly enchanting.
Though Lazarus Boopsie turned out to be a very sleepy drunk.