The War Comes Home
A few weeks ago, Hank Kaszynski celebrated a friend's birthday at the Liffey in St. Paul. An Irish band was playing, the whiskey and Guinness was flowing, and the 80-year-old father of eight ended the night by dancing enthusiastically with all comers.
class=img_thumbleft>For much of the night, Hank and his wife Mary Helen sat back and played the role of wallflower party guests. They talked about their passion for walking and biking, and about the spirit of their oldest son, Bruce, who was born with cerebral palsy and who has lived with the couple all their lives. There was also some worried talk of their 39-year-old son Kyle, a St. Paul policeman who had recently taken leave from his job to work for a private contractor in Iraq.
Kyle Kaszinski was killed Thursday when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle as it traveled from Baghdad to Baquaba. Last night, the devastated family's home in south Minneapolis was surrounded by candles, lit by well-wishers and fellow mourners, many of whom received this email, forwarded by Hank at the beginning of the week:
Let's all go and Totally Enjoy the Christmas Season.
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it.
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them! again.
8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.
Remember this motto to live by:
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, margarita in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
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