“Laughed” and Left Levity; Spider and Cider Drinks

Last night was particularly fun with 11 people squeezed into our flat for a lot of levity and food and fun!  The right combination of people made it a success. When entering our flat, the aroma of the apple cider on the stove that I had brewed three hours before, greeted everyone. At American Corner we showed “Sleepless in Seattle” though I would have preferred showing “While you were sleeping” since it has more of a Christmas theme to it.  We may show it later in December at American Corner.

For almost ten years, I have played this one Christmas game with my students and even with expats and with my family back home in Minnesota.  Thanks to my friend Jeannie in Ukraine who introduced it to me, it is easily found on the Internet.  The poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas…” which is indelibly set in all American children’s minds for some reason. Americans may not memorize many poems but this one  is a keeper.  Maybe the meter is just right, the two Americans (myself included) knew at least the start of it, our British guests shook their head. They didn’t know “T’was the Night Before Christmas…” What is added for this gift exchange game is the directions of Right or Left in order to pass gifts around a circle.  I warned my group last night to not be fooled when hearing the word “laughed” to think it is “LEFT.”  It still caught a few.

What’s interesting is that when I ask people ahead of time to bring a “gag” gift or something like a “white elephant” gift they haven’t a clue what I mean. But the one other American DID know and she brought a laughing glass.  If you turn on the battery on the bottom of the glass, it has a very contagious laugh.  We laughed and laughed right along with the glass.  One of the Kazakh girls got it when she opened up her gift when the game was finished.  I had wrapped about six extra presents ahead of time that could be used in this “Twas the Night before Christmas” game because I knew my guests would not get it.  Unfortunately, I had “girl” things to give like samples of Lancome cosmetics and lotions.  One of the British guys got one of those gifts but since he had indicated a STRONG interest in the other girl’s gag gift, they swapped presents and all went home happy.

Earlier we had all met at American Corner at the national library to watch the movie and then to discuss it afterwards. We talked about signs and I told my little group that I believed in signs because I gave them an example of what had happened to me on Dec. 30, 1990 in Minneapolis.  But I’ll have to save that story for another time to tell.

Today I showed the last movie of our movie series to about 25 students at our university “You’ve Got Mail.” That was another one that brought laughs at the right places.  Meg Ryan is the same actress in both movies, she does a superb job in “Sleepless in Seattle” as she does in “You’ve Got Mail.”  How do they memorize all those lines for their part and get into character?  That’s why they are paid millions of dollars and known all over the world for the talent they have, to make people laugh.

All good things must come to an end.  One of my guests last night had to leave early from our party and she said she really liked the spider drink I had brewed.  I had corrected her earlier but her mistake persisted. I told her again that what she had been drinking was hot cider (mixture of apple juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and other ingredients).  She laughed along with us when I corrected her that she can drink spiders all she wants but what I served up was apple CIDER!

Before my party ended, I had all 10 guests sign our guestbook and only then I sent them on their merry way.  The one Brit said he would use his laughing glass on the bus going home to see what other passengers and bus driver would think.  I wonder if he tried that. We all need a little levity now and then, especially with the colder temps setting in and the days being shorter and the night darkness longer.  But the lights decked out all over the city of Astana are beautiful, enchanting really.

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