When I was about 7, my siblings and I signed a Father’s Day card that read, “To the one that did the walking, from the one that did the squawking.”
Our dad enjoyed the card, and I suggested to our mom that we use the same card again the next year.
She produced it every Father’s Day for at least 10 years. Unaware of the ruse, our father thanked us for the card each year, never recalling it from the year prior. I don’t believe we ever revealed to him our first entry into the world of recycling.
In the ’60s, I bought an ugly brown vinyl tie for my younger brother for Christmas. When he opened it, the first words out of his mouth were, “That’s the ugliest thing I ever saw.” In fake chagrin, I grabbed it back and said: “See if I ever give you another gift.”
The next year, I wrapped The Tie and mailed it along with other gifts to my brother. On Christmas morning, the first call I got was from him. This time he fawned all over his “gift” and thanked me profusely. We all had a good laugh.
The tie was forgotten. Until the next Christmas: I received a wrapped package containing ... guess what? The Tie. Since then The Tie has traveled between our houses every year.
It all began in 1990. The family went to Rehoboth Beach, Del., for vacation, renting a cottage near a beach that was served by a vendor selling food and drinks from a board shack.
The grandchildren were small and didn’t want to go all the way back to the house for lunch, so I bought hot dogs and drinks for them at the shack. The kids grew up, and my daughter bought a house too far from the shack, so I began “dog day at the beach.”
On the appointed day, I bought dogs and the accouterments, prepared them at home and took them to the beach at noon. The meal was served under a canopy of umbrellas from tables formed from boogie boards on the arms of beach chairs and a line of coolers for drinks. With six children, 18 grandchildren, their spouses, in-laws, friends and neighbors, it easily attracted more than 40 people. We maxed out at 80 hot dogs. Now the kids are growing up with commitments that keep the number of participants down, so 40 to 50 dogs will do it, but it is a tradition that everyone looks forward to, and soon there will be great-grandchildren to swell the crowd.
The Family Chicken was the name I gave to a bizarre two-pound whole chicken in a can that I purchased in an attempt to bring about a bonding of our blended bunch of four teenagers and a tween.
The instructions were that if you were in any kind of difficulty, you would get the chicken and you were to keep it until it was needed by another family member, at which time you had to send it on. Under no circumstances were you to eat the chicken.
The Family Chicken showed up on several college campuses in different states but always found its way back home to New Jersey.
It has now been 36 years since our family got together, and the Chicken resides in the basement of our retirement home in Virginia. The children are free to visit it when they come home. None of us has the courage to open it.
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