Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cheap and healthy entertainment in the New Year

Steve and I laughed ourselves into incontinence this  morning (well, not Steve, really;  he's not plagued by that particular after-effect of having kids) over the New Year's letter he proposed writing. Steve, as a graphic artist, and I, as a former news reporter, have very different takes on written communication. He likes his with a minimum of words and one or two elegant visuals. I think it's important to be accurate, detailed and human, and that 1,000 words is a pretty darned good substitution for a picture.

So as he read the draft of his mass-mailing letter to me, I worked very hard  not to crack a smile. It was a couple of vaguely worded sentences about how full 2010 was and how we're greeting the New Year with hope and excitement and other abstract nouns that told absolutely nothing about us or our year.

When he finished, I said that it sounded pretty good but that we should flesh it out with a little information  about my recently uncovered intolerance to wheat.

He started laughing and scribbled a quick P.S. -- "For a long-winded discourse on intestinal issues, please see Sue's blog," which made me howl. I said that I really wanted to send that out but that I didn't want people to think our marriage was on the rocks so maybe I should add a P.P.S. "I'm Sue, and I approve of this message, though I think it should be more detailed and less platitudinous."

Then we pretty much dissolved into incoherent peals of laughter for a while, until we decided that we should instead send out a Mad Lib version of his original letter, in honor of the only activity that keeps the peace on any car rides of over 15 minutes with the kids:

Dear friends and (collective noun),

What a full year (number) was. We know of so many (plural noun) and (abstract plural noun), (vague plural noun) and (platitudinous plural noun) that have taken place in our small circle and the larger (singular abstract noun) that we can only (intransitive verb) at what 2011 has in store for (personal pronoun).

We (transitive verb) the New Year with (abstract noun) and (abstract noun) for all that may be and with gratitude (preposition) another year full of (abstract noun).

We wish for you a (comparative adjective), (comparative adjective) and (superlative adjective) New Year!


Steve, not apparently finished with his bout of hilarity, went on to create a new homemade holiday gift by wrapping up some long-in-the-tooth carrots he dehydrated out of curiosity and declared a culinary failure, with the following typed note:

The Story of 

Please enjoy this bundle of kalteti burkani (Latvian dried carrots) to bring good fortune to your New Year.

Originally an element in unspeakably ribald year-end celebrations in small villages bordering the Gulf of Riga on the Baltic Sea (present-day Latvia), these symbols of fecundity have a long and interesting history.

Thought to have originated in the steppes of Central Europe, the tradition of sharing kalteti burkani with an intended spouse, or as payment fora  romantic liason, was outlawed by the early Eastern Orthodox church on pain of death.

Many were martyred until finally the ancient culture was broken, and today the kalteti burkani are widely shared as simple tokens of good fortune as one year ends and another begins.

So in the spirit of kalteti burkani, have a Happy New Year!

He delivered these to our neighbor friends, who Googled the phrase in an effort to figure out exactly what sort of good-luck New Year's food they had received.

Here's an illustration of the gift, by Willow:

It's nice that we can amuse ourselves so cheaply.

1 comment:

  1. I'll be expecting my New Year's gift of kalteti burkani in the mail.