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Saturday, January 20, 2007


Is the Can Half-Empty or Half-Full?

A great thing about marriage is that you get to experience family traditions that are utterly and completely different than yours. For instance, my family and I recently introduced my wife to the tradition of mercilessly ridiculing each other for how we look in old family slides (my mom's ill-advised attempt at long hair; the Engleburt Humperdink-esqe picture of my dad on an early-70s New Year's Eve; the fat-boy man-boobs I sported at age 13 on a trip to Myrtle Beach). This is something we've done since I was young and I love it.

My wife's family does something at Christmas that my family never really got into: they put some emphasis on the Christmas Stocking.

My family made some half-hearted attempts at working with Christmas Stockings when I was a kid, but it never really caught on. We do a bang-up job on actual wrapped presents, but stockings are not our forte.

The first year I spent Christmas with my wife's family, I was made a part of the annual Sock Exchange, in which the adults all draw each other's names and then are responsible for filling that person's sock. [I need to interrupt things here to explain that the socks are filled by "Santa", so any child in the family who might, for some inexplicable reason, be reading this should be yanked away from the computer right now.] I was extremely embarrassed when I opened my sock and saw how much genuinely cool stuff I'd been given. Small kitchen gadgets, wind-up toy nuns, thirteen pounds of chocolate. I'd drawn the name of my brother-in-law and I think I got him an orange and some Twizzlers. It was mortifying.

I learned my lesson after that, though, and have done my best since then to come up with a good amount of worthy stocking stuffers.

The exchange has been a bit spottier since my wife and I moved to New York. It's a lot more difficult to pull a name from a hat when you're on the opposite coast. So, some years, spouses have just taken care of each other's stockings. And, this year, with our travel as nutty as it was, my wife and I both completely forgot to do anything stocking-related. I had a couple of small things for hers, but not enough to live up to the tradition.

My mother-in-law and my wife's sister, though, were on it. They'd anticipated our lame-itude and had already gotten stuff for each of us.

Included in our sock bounty was a curious little plastic contraption that took some figuring out. It looked something like a hi-tech toilet seat for a dollhouse and most of us were utterly puzzled as to its purpose. We were told that this was a device you put on half-empty soda cans to keep the delicious beverage inside from losing all of its carbonation, so that it can be enjoyed later.

This seemed like a great idea to me. I was actually quite excited to try it out. Y'see, my wife has, for the entirety of our relationship, had a habit of getting thirsty for a soda at around 10:30 PM. Or right before we're going someplace. So she'd pop open a can, take a few sips and leave it in the refrigerator, reassuring me that she was going to drink it later.

Which she never--ever--did. Instead, the can would sit in the fridge until I was putting groceries away and had to clear out the four or five dozen half-drunk Diet Sierra Mists to make way for a jar of gourmet gazpacho.

Now, this may seem like one of those things that looks good in theory but that actually just sits on the can doing nothing much. But, I've gotta tell you, these things work. And we've been using them left and right. My wife can have a sip of soda any damn time she wants and then finish it at her leisure. Hell, even I did it last night. I got thirsty right before we were going out to dinner with friends. Normally, I would have thought, "Well, I'll never finish a full can of soda. Guess I'll just have to have some water. *sigh*" But, instead, I popped a can open, took a sip and then slapped it back in the icebox with one of these soda-saver dealies on there and then finished it off when we got home.

So I just wanted to say a big thank you to my in-laws. And to Jokari, maker of the Can Pump N' Pour. God bless you and the wonderful work you're doing.

Ya know, they've got these wonderful things now called "bottles" that have "re-usable" caps.
Diet Sierra Mist? What the hell is the point?
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