Party On

Lynn received this in the gift exchange. We think, although we’re waiting for verification, that it’s an original oil by Donnie. A photographer, he has a real eye — don’t you love the colors of the sky?

Does it feel like I’ve been gone forever? It does to me, and here’s the heck of it: I had plenty of topics for you all last week, just no time. Okay, I’m sure there was time, but I allocated it elsewhere. In a life where we think we can have it all, it still requires picking and choosing. And I chose party planning over blogging.

There were some lessons in all this to be learned, and one of them was: don’t hold the Pat’s festive holiday party so close to the holidays. We’ve always staged this in either the first or second weekend of the month; this year I decided to push it back in the hope that we would be able to have it in person — a hope that was never going to be realized.

What I should have thought through and didn’t was that we always get busy right before Christmas. I had focused on the virus when timing the party; I should have considered our work schedule as well.

Perhaps it seems like a virtual party should have come with fewer logistics: everyone just turns on their computers and tunes in, right? Except I was determined to go through with our gift exchange, party games and door prizes — and then there was the part where a few guests didn’t have easy access to either computers or wifi.

I got a Grinch party package — it was on sale, even — that came with Grinch Bingo, but not enough cards for everyone. Making additional cards proved easier than expected, but it was just another step that cutting into prime blogging time. Although I didn’t manage to make a winning card for me.

Last Tuesday I took a virtual tap class with my former teacher. It was so much fun, especially since many of my fellow students unexpectedly turned out to be former fellow students, now scattered all across the state. Plus I met some new people, even though all we ever saw or heard of Quentin was his name. We did all pounce, though, when Leslie, the teacher, perhaps made the mistake of saying something about doing this every week.

It was an instructive class in other ways as well, and I learned all kinds of semi-hidden tools available to the Zoom user. For months Zoom was barely a viable option for me, since my microphone, which works just fine in Skype, didn’t work in Zoom. But there’s a whole world of settings next to the little microphone picture. Who knew? What an educational class!

I had planned to give a party try to our tap-class trick of disappearing from the screen while Leslie was explaining steps, as well as using breakout rooms — which I only learned about the day before the party — for relay planning purposes, but these were steps too far in our new Pat’s virtuality.

Normally our party relays involve tossing bean bags, power-cramming peppermint Twinkies (yep, found those one year), running around the room balancing various objects, and wrapping awkwardly-shaped gifts. This year I had to come up with events that could be managed from the comfort of one’s own home, and the prize, which is always a donation by Pat’s to the local non-profit of the winning team’s choosing, won’t be terribly large. But we managed, even without all the spiffy new Zoom tricks up my sleeve.

In fact, the whole evening turned out just swell, better than I hoped for. I think everyone had a good time — well, everyone except Mouse.

Some people got a little wilder than others and Gilly, not content to light just a candle in the holiday spirit, also set her cat on fire. Now that is spirited partying!

Gilly has several cats, one of them named Mouse, and Mouse decided to join the party by way of the candle, brushing it with her bushy tail– a scene recreated later in the party by Emily, who was teleporting in from Arvada, where she also has a (non-flammable) cat named Mouse.

Emily, a former printer and our first graphic designer, drew a cat for her portion of the relay, and later added flames to commemorate the highLIGHT (get it?) of the evening. (For the record, Emily’s other cat is named Kris. Put Kris and Mouse together and what do you get? A celebration of the season all year long.)

Remain calm: fire extinguished; candle extinguished; cat okay, furniture okay; house a tad smoky; Gilly okay up until her daughter’s computer ran low on juice and she unceremoniously exited the party a bit early.

Kara may not be speaking to her husband because he took too long folding his paper airplane for the relay; someone had three Bingos on a 4 x 4 Grinch card and still didn’t win with the required pattern; and poor Stacey probably didn’t get to enjoy the party too much as she ran back and forth trying to get Jeff and Donnie set up on separate computers at Six Points, our local organization for folks with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

But we got to see Emily’s “new” spinning wheel, a family heirloom that came from Sweden in the 1880s that she inherited it not long ago. An inveterate knitter, Emily (who still does design work in the screen-printing world, including sometimes still for us) reported going a little crazy with her new “toy.”

Omar showed a side of himself we don’t see too often at work, putting items from his party pack to use in a parade of images across his webcam. I’ve already suggested to Vann that we put this creativity to work in our baby-steps social media campaign.

Loren had some very kind words for me, and Shannon, a disembodied voice (not unlike Quentin from tap class), had a moving recollection of Pat, the remarkable woman in whose footsteps we try to tread. Doug livened up the gift exchange, which I was afraid would fall a bit flat done virtually. James managed to do the puzzle that everyone else assured me was impossible.

I almost forgot the door prizes, determined by Kara’s spins of the Grinch wheel, a rather useless but really fun part of the Grinch party package, purchased on sale.

I started buying door prizes one economic downturn ago, to boost in some tiny fashion my downtown neighbors’ sales. This year that seemed important once again. No one got rich off my little buys, since we’re not very rich ourselves.

In money, at least. In friends, I feel very blessed, overflowing with riches — and the Pat’s festive holiday party, just as festive and holidayish as always, simply reinforced that. It was a wonderful evening. Bonus: very little clean-up required.

I’ll try to get back on track this week, perhaps to regale you with all my brilliant ideas from last week that I wrote in my head but never put to electrons.

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