Monday, November 30, 2009

How's That Workin' Out for You?
Last year, in the interest of family warmth and lively conversation, I made up a homemade deck of Proust questionnaire cards. Some people were crazy about it. Others...not so much.

This year I pulled out the box of Family Dinner Conversation Starters that Danielle gave me last Christmas. I thought the professionally vetted family dinner cards might go over better than the traditional Proust questions: Your idea of misery? Large family gatherings. What is your present state of mind? Morose. How I wish to die? Quietly; fifteen minutes before Mom pulls out the #*%&$ Proust cards.

The conversation was lively, even if it turned occasionally to a discussion of "why must we do those cards." Dr. Big Ed is a good team player. Without his participation I would have to say that the response is definitely split along gender lines. ( as illustrated by the above photo of Bridget and her brother [not-Dr. Little] Eddie)

Without incendiary fodder such as, "What is one negative personality trait of the person directly to your right?," we still had some touchy moments. "Who is the teacher who has had the greatest impact on your life?" That was easy for me. Mrs. Cramer, my adored fifth grade teacher. Emily's response was just as quick as mine, but very negative. Mrs. XXX, the fourth grade teacher who pronounced Emily as being doomed to a lifetime of illiteracy. It's funny how a Masters of Library Science, brilliant marriage and adorable daughter are momentarily forgotten. And then there is Eddie - same teacher all his life. I've moved past wondering why he didn't pipe up and mention my name. He probably thought it was just so freakin' obvious...

Moving right along...
"Favorite smell?"
I agreed with the folks who said Magic Marker. Not Sharpies or any other gross smelling marker. Magic Marker. Evocative of first grade and happy school days. I can't handle a Magic Marker without taking one short whiff. (Which, despite what your high school substance abuse counselors told you kids, is not the same as huffing. Really.) A few people said gasoline. Understandable, but I guess I should worry about my family's propensity to appreciate highly volatile toxic substances. But my answer has to be the smell that lingers for just a short time after the Christmas is brought in. The fleeting nature of the pleasure only increases its value. And no Crabtree and Evelyn Pine Room Spray or limited edition Febreze Christmas air freshener can capture it.

"Which TV family does yours most resemble?"
Malcolm in the Middle - definitely. To those who said the Kardashians, I could only tsk. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

"Do you have a family rule that is unfair?"
No. Of course not. Except for the people who do not like my 'directed dinner table repartee.'

We should take these cards to Grandma's house for Christmas. Why not spread the fun around!

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-- Michelangelo, quoted in Vasari's Lives of the Artists

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