Even if you don’t much like people, there is no denying that summer, with its high saturation of tinsel, resolutions and warm evenings is most definitely party season. Usually, I escape this time with nothing more than a sense of self-loathing due to flashbacks from the work Christmas do, but sometimes a fly gets in the ointment of fun and frivolity and the shizzle gets real (or in my case, real disorganised). From minor inconveniences to out and out disasters, not all good times go as planned.
If you live in Auckland, when you think “festive lights”, you think Franklin Road; but everywhere has those streets or houses that really get down with their elf-selves at Christmas time. Blow up Santas that sway like they’re rotten drunk, prancing reindeer with no genitals and enough fairy lights to bring in a 747. When the children were young and we lived in the city, we made the annual pilgrimage to ohh and ahhh and look in Matthew Ridge’s lounge window, as did the other 1.72 million residents. Every year it got busier and busier and more and more difficult to park without having to walk from another postcode. One year, my step-grandsons came over for Christmas from Perth, at the time they were only 3 and 5 and the Christmas excitement was palpable. Of course, we promised to take them to see all the shining luminosity that the Yuletide brought with it. However, as we got closer and closer to the suburb of dreams, the reality of how late we had left our visit, descended upon us. Why did we wait until 8.30 on Christmas Eve? (Spoiler alert: it was because I wanted to finish watching the Housewives of Beverly Hills Xmas special and pop in to get another box of Ernest Adams mince pies to fuel my addiction). There was traffic for miles and it looked as though we would not be getting out of there until after the New Year. But what can we do? We have two small boys who want to see the bright lights of Christmas? I thought on my feet (or actually on my butt in the passenger seat) and said to my husband “Girls, Girls, Girls.” At first he looked confused, but slowly the genius of my idea dawned on him – we were off to the red light district. Where else are there flashing lights, multi-colored signs, neon stretching as far as the eye can see? Neither child could read and we told them the lady in the martini glass was the Christmas Fairy having a swim. We stopped at the petrol station and got ice-creams and Christmas was saved. Neither boy has needed counseling for the events of their childhood with Grandad and Nana, so actually, I call this a win.
One of the most famous celebrations that went very wrong was the Cleveland Balloonfest of 1986. The idea was that, as a charity event, the city of Ohio would attempt the largest balloon release of all time. Six months in the making, a huge rectangular structure was created, the size of a city block and containing 1.5 million helium balloons. Well this sounds like a good bit of family friendly fun (also notice the complete absence of strip-bar signage mentioned), what could go wrong? Well let me tell you. Apparently, in a typical helium balloon scenario, the balloon stays up long enough for it to deflate before falling to Earth. Unfortunately, in this case, the huge cloud of latex, met with a cold front and they all came down still completely inflated. This blocked airport runways, frightened livestock and impacted on search and rescue efforts at sea. There were traffic incidents and a woman sued for damages for the stress the saga had had on her champion horses, she won. On the upside, Ohio did become the Guiness Record holder for the largest balloon release. On the downside, the event has been blamed for accidents and even deaths and is now commemorated as a public disaster.
Other notable mentions for the “that occasion didn’t go as quite as planned but we don’t need to extrapolate on it” award would would be:
When I baked a horse-themed birthday cake for my sister in law and the dog ate it in the other room just before we were about to do the candles.
The surprise party when the guest of honour pooped himself when startled by the presence of a bunch or morons hiding behind his couch and everyone had to wait until he had a shower for cake.
My first wedding party when I glued my teeth together with nail glue while trying to open the tube
The child’s birthday party when my daughter was blind folded, spun around and told to hit a pinata with a large metal softball bat and nearly killed the birthday girl’s father (seriously, how much tequila had the Mexican person who came up with that idea been swigging!).
When it comes to celebrations, even the best laid plans of mice and men can go awry. Given the times that we live in, I guess we just have to be grateful when we can get to see our loved ones. So take aways; enjoy the time you get together, don’t succumb to the pressure to be perfect, invest in some fairy lights of your own so you don’t need to trawl K’Road with preschoolers, keep balloon numbers below the 1,000,000 mark and make sure children are not blindfolded before being given a blunt force instrument. Surely the keys to success!