Monday, December 24, 2012

A season of stealing

Last week I stole a Christmas present from my mother-in-law. I grabbed it right out of her hands. But she started it — she stole one from me first.
No, our family hasn’t turned into a band of grifting shoplifters. I’m talking about our annual Christmas gift exchange.
It’s the kind of party where people bring gifts, everyone draws numbers and then takes turns picking from the pile. But there’s a twist. You can either open a wrapped gift or steal one that’s already been opened.
There’s nothing like a gift exchange to bring out your inner competitor. Three hundred and sixty-four days of the year your favorite aunt is a sweet, law-abiding woman who rescues kittens and volunteers to feed the homeless. But during the gift exchange, watch out. She’ll steal the shirt off your back if it’s up for grabs. Especially if it has a snowman embroidered on it.
Choosing the gift to bring is a big decision. My goal? The more people who fight over my gift, the better. So the present has to be cute, but not so cute that I want to keep it. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to steal your own gift back. Instead of taking home the pretty holiday serving dish you brought to the party, you’re more likely to end up with a stuffed animal that sings “I Farted on Santa’s Lap,” complete with sound effects.
There are always two or three gifts that everyone fights over. This year the stealing fun began when I opened a set of faux wood skating penguins. Nothing against skating penguins, but I wasn’t dying to take them home. I didn’t have to worry for long. When it was my mother-in-law’s turn, she headed straight toward me. And she took them. She took my penguins. What a stealer, that grandma.
Grandma’s penguins turned out to be quite popular. No sooner had she sat down than her own sister-in-law swiped them from right under her nose.
Grandma’s next gift would prove to be just as popular — a glass beverage container with spigot dispenser, perfect for serving lemonade at parties.
When one of my nieces stole my next pick, I got to choose again. And I knew just what I was going for. Sorry Grandma. The drink cooler was mine ... for about 10 minutes, until a cousin promptly stole it from me.
Two stuffed white cats that sang “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and a dancing Snoopy that wiggled to that Snoopy Christmas song were also stolen back and forth. I am proud to report that the colorful wreath that I brought to the party was swapped three times.
One cousin contingent had perfected their Christmas gift-stealing strategy. Once a gift has been pilfered three times, it’s officially retired. This family teamed up and between themselves, “stole” the drink dispenser two more times so they could end up with the coveted item. It was a move worthy of “Survivor: Christmas All Stars.”
Next year, I’m planning my alliances early.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The evolution of a blog

When I started this blog there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter, let alone Instagram and Pinterest.

And now there is.

Over the past few months I've transitioned from posting here to my other social media sites. I'll still post my columns on PlanetClaire, but for photos, tweets and daily happenings find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (girlreporter).

Look for me there.

I'll look for you too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The root of the problem

Recently, my favorite dentist told me I needed a root canal. This was not what I expected to hear from my favorite dentist. I preferred a tender pat on the shoulder and a “See you in six months.”
Instead, he used those two words. Root canal.
Even worse, he announced that he intended to send me off to a different dentist called an endodontist. That’s a fancy word for Dentist Who Does Only Root Canals.
He told me my new endodontist could give me intravenous sedation for my root canal.
This wasn’t bad news.
Last time I had IV sedation was almost 20 years ago when my wisdom teeth were pulled. The dental assistant started my IV and I never even saw the dentist. Still have no idea what he looks like. And that’s OK with me. I don’t want to get to know a bunch of new dentists. Especially ones that Only Do Root Canals.
I asked my favorite dentist if he could come with me to my root canal. Could he assist with the procedure? Could he just watch over the endodontist’s shoulder? Could he hold my hand?
He laughed like I was making a joke.
I was kind of not joking.
On the day of my root canal, I had our oldest daughter drive me to the endodontist’s office. She would need to be my chauffeur for after the root-canalling was done. Apparently, it’s not a good idea to drive yourself home after being doped up with an IV in the arm.
The Dentist Who Does Only Root Canals acted like my root canal was the highlight of his morning.
Here’s the X-ray of your tooth, he said helpfully, turning the computer monitor toward me.
I covered my eyes. I don’t want to see it, I said. I don’t want to know what a root-canal tooth looks like or why it aches like it does.
To make myself feel better, I imagined what dentistry must have been like during pilgrim times. When a pilgrim had an achy tooth, he or she didn’t make an appointment for Tuesday at 9 a.m. with the Dentist Who Does Only Root Canals. There was no such thing as the Plymouth Rock School of Dentistry. I have a bad feeling that pilgrims with achy teeth had only one remedy and it probably didn’t involve an IV to la-la land while reclining in a dental chair with a view of a Zen rock garden.
The sedation was just like I remembered it: IV in and then lights out. The office staff had my daughter help me out to the car after it was all over. I don’t remember much about the ride home, but apparently the sight of “mom on drugs” is hilarious. Or so I heard at dinner that night.
I didn’t care. My root canal was done. Even a pilgrim would be thankful for that.