This year, in the Buckingham household, we have begun what I hope will become a tradition.
No, it isn’t considered a “tradition” to avoid burning down the house—that is more of a rule inscribed on the third tablet that Moses dropped and broke by mistake. Take from that what you will.
At any rate, last year, on January first, Stij and I each put an empty Mason jar on our respective desks. It was our job, when something terrific happened all during the year, to write it down on a scrap of paper and put it in the jar. On New Year’s Eve, we will open up the jars and read the contents aloud as a way of expressing our gratitude for the good things life has brought us during the previous year.
We decided to open them a day or two early on this, the inaugural year. Here’s how it went:
“Okay, who goes first?”
“I will,” Stij said, fishing out a piece of paper. He read, “Had the fire extinguishers recharged.”
“And that’s a terrific thing from last year?”
“Remember the pot roast?”
“Oh…right. Okay, my turn.” I unfolded my paper. “Made pot roast.”
“Well, I guess that’s a wash. ‘Bought a new ride-on mower.’”
“You sure pick some odd things to put in your jar. ‘Drove ride-on mower through neighbor’s prize-winning Petunia bed.’”
“Talk about me! How is that a great thing?”
“It got you that new ride-on mower you wanted, didn’t it?”
Stij shook his head as if trying to clear water from his ears. “Remodeled living room.”
I opened my slip of paper. “Saved the bric-a-brac by setting fire to a giant homemade loaf of bread that attacked the living room.”
“Remodeled the kitchen.”
“Remind me of why you had to do that."
“Oh…right. But the salad was good, as I remember.”
“You have the memory of a dead elephant. The ‘salad,’ as you so laughingly call it had a homemade dressing on it that ate through an anodized aluminum bowl AND the counter top—and it takes a lot to eat through granite in three-and-a-half seconds. Have you ever considered a career in munitions?”
“Tee hee. Here’s mine, ‘Created a lasagne that looked exactly like the photograph in the cookbook—before exploding.’”
“Five seconds of pride followed by three seconds of mayhem and two-and-a-half months of work.”
“Okay, smart guy, let’s hear another one of yours, then.”
“Okay. ‘Installed steel counter top on kitchen island.’”
“Didn’t that come under the kitchen remodel?”
“No that was later on when your chocolate chip cookies melted the previous one.”
“Oh…right. Here’s one of mine: ‘Feeding the birds.’”
“Here’s mine: ‘Shoveling up and disposing of 300 bird carcasses after you ‘kindly’ fed them the bird seed balls you made and hung from the trees.’”
“Oh, come on.”
“’Come on,’ nothing! To this day, Ziplock has no idea that they actually make body bags. I still don’t know how you could screw up birdseed balls..”
“Well, the recipe called for suet, which I didn’t have and had no idea where to get, so I got creative and used Gorilla Glue instead.”
“Got creative? Got homicidal, you mean. If I hadn’t gotten rid of those bodies pronto, PETA would have burned you in effigy. It’s as close as I ever want to get to feeling like a mob clean-up man.”
This was not turning out to be the uplifting exercise I had originally envisioned.
“Okay, okay! I see that you have one left—let’s hear it.”
He unfolded the last slip. “‘I love being married to my wife because there is never a dull moment.’”
“Funny, my last slip says the same thing about you,” I said.
Just goes to show you that the couple that cooks and rebuilds together stays together.