No Admittance, Except on Party Business

A cherished friend, One-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, broke bread with us on Christmas Eve, and shared the gift that keeps on giving–the nastiest cold germ I’ve ever made personal acquaintance with. By Christmas night, my throat was scratchy, and it was all downhill from there.  The next day Bea was felled.  The day after, Eli.  My brother Lew, who spent the holiday with us, left to suffer in the privacy of his own home.  A week later, on New Year’s Eve Eve we were still in no shape to host the hobbit party we had planned.  I rescheduled with family friends, but Bea asked if she could still have just a small handful of her friends over.  I said, yes, but only if they knew they were coming at their own risk.  So we did a little decorating, a little shopping, a little food prep, a little dress up, and we were ready to party in quarantine.

Eli and I were chief cook and bottle washer, but we dressed up too.  Then, like dwarves showing up unannounced at Bilbo’s hobbit hole, the guests began to arrive.  They came in ones…

..and threes…

Oh, yeah, and in most interesting and unexpected twosomes!

They played…

…and played.

…and played.

As midnight drew near, there was only one task left to do. Mama hobbit began to prepare the Boston Coolers, an ancient custom practiced by native Detroiters and their offspring, to toast the New Year. It is a delicate concoction of Vernors ginger ale, not Canada Dry or any other pale substitute. Only Vernors, aged in wood, and deftly mixed with vanilla ice cream. Try it sometime, but you must promise not to settle for anything less than real Vernors!

Cheers! Bottoms up! Skumps! Happy New Year!

Then, just as suddenly as they came…well, actually it was four hours later…the mysterious guests slipped out of the door…

…and melted into the night.

The moral of the story is this:  When a friend comes knocking, and you are tempted to go back to bed with a hot water bottle…open your door to the possibilities.  Even if you think you aren’t up to it, chances are you might be glad you did.

May the New Year bring you peace, health, happiness, and just enough adventure to keep you on your toes!

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Inviting. 


  1. It’s interesting to consider the etiquette of being a carrier of one cold virus or another. If you have a dreaded lurgy and call in sick for work, you’re considered a wuss, or worse, a malingerer, and so on we battle, spreading our germs indiscriminately on the bus and the train, in the elevator and our offices, in the car with hubby (or whoever) and by Christmas Eve night we’re accustomed to feeling pretty lousy but soldering on, so we don’t think twice about popping into Naomi’s, or Meredith’s, as agreed, to kiss, kiss and spread the joy … oops, i mean more germs! I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea of wearing a face mask like many Japanese do, but I do think it’s time we considered it impolite to spread our germs around uninvited.

    Rant over, I’m in total accord with the moral of your tale, and with hobbit sized feet forward, who would not have enjoyed themselves at your semi-impromptu party!

    By the way, I’ve put ginger beer on the shopping list – not Vernors, of course, but Elephant House ginger beer is better than my mother’s lethal home brew – a little sweet, perhaps, but so gingery there’s definite heat in each gulp! Sounds perfect for a belated New Year Colombo Cooler, don’t you think?

    1. New Year Columbo Cooler sounds like quite a treat! I do think you’re right about the spread of germs, but we had extenuating circumstances. My friend is from the other side of the mountains, and stayed with friends in Portland who were sick just before she came to us. She was sick by the time she got to our house, and when she wanted to go home early, the mountain passes were closed due to snow. We put her to bed, but it was too for us. And I never have been hit by such a wicked cold. I’m glad to say we’re all getting better.

  2. It looks like a wonderful time was had by all. Hope everyone is on the mend. Boston Coolers sound like a yummy treat.

  3. Vernors.

    My son-in-law (originally from Miami) loves it, but I don’t think he’s ever made a float with it. I’ll have to suggest it to him.

    Ah, the joys of the communal disease. We spent the days after Christmas sick.

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you have actually tasted Vernors! Where is Michigan was your cottage? We used to go camping near Muskegan. And I hope that you are feeling better soon, Scilla.

      1. My husband’s family had a cottage at Pentwater. We three were all probably partying there within a few miles of each other, and never knew it. Kind of fun to think about. Did you ever get Blue Moon ice cream? I used to think that was the coolest thing in the world. Of course, that was before they started putting eye-popping food dye into everything marketed for kids. I went back to Pentwater about eighteen years ago, and couldn’t find the little ice cream shop, then about ten years ago, we found the little factory and bought everyone a BLue Moon ice cream cone.

      2. Never got introduced to Blue Moon ice cream…my mother would not have permitted it (she wouldn’t even hand out candy at Halloween…only little boxes of raisins…she started making her own yogurt in the 70s rather than buy the kind that had food coloring). Did you ever go dune-scooting at Mac Woods Dune Rides in Silver Lake?

      3. Never did anything organized that would have required an admission charge for seven kids, but I remember racing down sand dunes in a herd of screaming kids, just as fast as I could. Once I couldn’t stop and raced right into the water in my clothes.

        Good for your mom! I think most people were so entranced by the wonder of TV dinners and such that they didn’t stop to ask themselves if this processed stuff was healthy. My mom used to make all our own bread, until the kids started asking her to cut off the crusts, and then she switched to Wonder Bread. After my dad died, it was Kraft Macaroni ‘n’ Cheese and hot dogs. I don’t know how she managed to cope.

      4. My favorite picture of my childhood is one of me barreling down a sand dune, arms over my head, mouth wide open, blue sky like a halo overhead. I’m probably 5 years old. 😀

  4. So glad to hear that the Shire was hopping with joyous celebration at New Year’s and hope all the hobbits stay well and wise in 2013. – Nikki

  5. Three years under the avos in rural Spain and I only discovered what a Hobbit looked like last week :-). (Watched the entire saga on DVD) Lovely.

  6. I liked the title. It reminded me of long ago… And the story was pretty good… except I know that even if I was next door, I wouldn’t have come… I am scared of any sickness… even the mildest… and when I myself am ill, I go into hiding… But it was good to read about this party, and to see the very delightful pictures. Best wishes for a very sweet new year.

    1. Hi Shimon,
      I understand perfectly. I avoid exposing myself to sickness whenever possible, and when I am sick I avoid going out so as not to infect people. I missed the last day and a half of my sister-in-law’s visit because I didn’t want to expose my mother-in-law to this.

      I wish you a very sweet New Year too!

      1. just wondered as your post said 9:45 am LOL, I read of your illness sure hope your feeling betyter, that germ is a horrible one this year and it just hangs on. God bless my friend get well soon:)

  7. What fun! I think I might have had as good a time reading as you folks did partying. I love the first photo!

    Well, here we are in 2013. Can you believe it? Hope you are feelling better, Naomi.

  8. I’m with Jamie. all the fun photos, it’s almost as if I were there. Love the hobbit feet too 😉 I had a nasty cold like that and I got it on a plane from Paris to Atlanta. I had never been so sick from a cold like that ever! so I feel your pain and glad you’re feeling better now. Happy new year to you and yours!

    1. I’m so glad you didn’t get sick on the plane from Atlanta to Paris!

      I don’t even remember where I got those feet–been around for years, probably since LOTR first came out and the kids were always playing hobbit, but it’s amazing what you can find in our costume room!

      Happy New Year to you too, Toby!

      1. ah…well, thanks for the sentiments. I’m glad I didn’t get sick en route to Europe too! but we were never supposed to have flown through Atlanta…that was the worst travel day(s) of my life, hands down!! and then to get that awful bug on the “wrong” plane. oh boy. we just watched “the return of the king”(again) the weekend before Christmas. all three were on TV I imagine due to The Hobbit opening that same weekend. It gets mixed reviews but I still want to see it. My daughter has seen it twice now 🙂

      2. I took my kids to our little neighborhood theater. No IMAX or 3D necessary. I didn’t compare it to the book, which I read and loved forty years ago. I didn’t look at it in relation to the LOTR movies. I am no purist about anything, except perhaps, the Norman Conquest, about which I have some very strong opinions. My kids and I all took The Hobbit as a stand-alone project, and we all LOVED it. I hope you do too!

    1. Hi Jamine,
      You are not the first person to tell me that! It is going around everywhere. The sad thing is that I had just gotten over a lingering cold-turned-cough and so that I wouldn’t give ti to anyone else over the holiday, I went to the doctor and got a course of antibiotics, which cleared it up right away. Five days later, Bam! Are you feeling better? I hope you can pamper yourself a little bit to make up for the Christmas surprise you never asked for!

    1. Hi Lesley,

      Thank you so much! There are a few sounds that always give me joy when I hear them under my roof. The clink of someone else doing the dishes, the sound of homemade music and song, and the sound of unbridled laughter. That night, I got to hear all three.

  9. Man oh man what a gift you received 😦

    I think I like being recluse 🙂 save for my honey and the dog and cat 🙂

    I am so sorry you all go so sick but glad you recovered enough to go all out with the party!

    I am from Boston and have had many too many root beer floats but I must see if Mom has ever heard of this 🙂 and then we must try.

    May you have the healthiest of year ahead


      1. Try Vernors first, Mary, just in case the ginger beer doesn’t live up to your expectations–I want you to already know the joy of a True Boston Cooler!

  10. Happy New Year, Sis! We had our traditional Boston Coolers, AKA Vernor’s floats, here in the U.P. as well, something new for the grandchildren. Their tastes are not quite mature enough to appreciate the delicacy. After a taste, they chose vanilla ice cream sundaes instead. Not to worry, Mark and I finished up the delectable drinks! We’ve been sharing germs all week anyway. We will have to keep working on the girls in years to come.

    1. I’ve been thinking of you, Lee.

      I remember padding out into the living room as a little kid, not knowing there was anything special about the night, but hearing voices and seeing lights. There in the living room, next to Mom’s big blond sewing machine, was Mom and the big kids and GRANDMA ROSE, all drinking some sort of ice creamy drink. Simply by coming out to join you, I had come of age, and that was the first time I ever tasted a Boston Cooler, and I haven’t missed a New Year’s Eve since.

      How was your holiday? I know it was great to have Adrienne at home. Wait–why don’t I just call you? Talk to you soon!

  11. I’ve got to show this blog to my daughter, she too is a hobbit in human clothing. She had a hobbit party, but for the opening of the new movie. She also spent three weeks in New Zealand summer before last and got to tour (and take photos) of the Shire set for the new movie (and she was dressed like a hobbit). She had a great time and took some awesome photos.
    I like your party and your Boston Coolers!

    1. Hi Darla,

      That is so cool! What did she do for her hobbit party? I am having another one this weekend, and would love any recommendations or ideas. Did they play any special games or serve any special treats? I know one friend is coming as Treebeard–I will have the camera ready!

      1. Yes, she made stew and lambis bread I think. They rewatched all the movies. Any many dressed up. I can’t wait to see the pics of your next party if you haven’t posted it yet. I’ve stopped getting any kind of notification form word press. 😦 not sure what that is about.

      2. HI Darla,
        It sounds like a great party. Here are a few photos from the second one. I hope this link works. If not, let me know and I can e-mail some to you.

        Fingers crossed! So good to hear from you!

      3. Loved the pics; is that your family? And your hubby as the Eye of Sararun? (I know I totally butchered that spelling, but too lazy to look it up. LOL)
        Looks like a fun party!

    1. It was kind of sweet! We’ll probably see many of the same kids here next weekend, and all the adults who opted out because of the germ factor. Thanks for the visit, and stopping by. Best wishes for the New Year1

  12. Sorry for the sickness, but it looks like you were able to make it a fun event in spite of the “germ factor”! My husband has finally succombed to the fact that he probably is sick, and it’s not just that his voice is an octave lower. So, like a lot of other people, I can relate to your situation. We love Vernor’s! I have never had it with vanilla ice cream before, but that certainly sounds delicious! I think when he is feeling better, we will have to celebrate, and give it a try! Cheers to a wonderful new year!

  13. Hope you are feeling better now! I too love Vernors and probably had half a dozen cans when home for Christmas. Another family favorite is to mix it with egg nog! Happy New Year!

  14. This is what I missed the most when our daughter left home. The impromptu opportunities to open up our homes and hearts even, when all we want to do is lie down and die! Happy for you Naomi and hope the virus has been vanquished. And your sweet guests didn’t succumb 🙂 Wish you good health, good friends and much happiness in the coming year.
    Shall have to try a Chennai version of your cooler 🙂

    1. Hi Madhu,
      I love opening up the house, and hearing the sound of kids’ laughter. I will still have parties, and I know grownups who like to dress up, but I am going to miss having the kids hanging out here. I have until March, when Eli leaves for Argentina, before I experience a truly empty nest. Thanks so much for your visit and good wishes.

  15. I am a germaphobic….I hesitated reading your blog for fear of catching the bug! 🙂 Your hand full of guests are one big hand! Looks like fun and I must look for this ale now! Hoping today finds each of you feeling better! Cheers!

    1. Hi Paula,
      We’re doing better. We have another hobbit party scheduled (actually rescheduled) for tomorrow night. And this time we will go all out. Better get cleaning! Thanks for stopping by, and for your good wishes.

  16. Sorry to hear you were sick over the holidays. But wow your family really rallied and threw an awesome party. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  17. You poor lady… Hope you make a speedy recovery soon… 😦
    Glad to reconnect with you this year and many thanks for the blog love
    •.★♥★Happy New Year to You & Yours!★♥★.•

  18. Being sick is no fun (ever, but especially during holidays) – but opening the door is the right response… Hope you are doing better now.

    BTW – the whole idea of a Hobbit party is great.

    1. You are so sweet! It is so nice to hear from you. Thank you, we are all feeling much better. That was our practice party. Tomorrow we are having our rescheduled New Year’s Eve party. I had to tidy our rec room downstairs and roll in an extra couch, because we are surely going to spill over into the basement. I hear even Treebeard is going to bring all his little saplings!

      1. Thanks. This is our last holiday hurrah before buckling down. January is going to be a very busy and demanding month for us all. I hope you have an easy landing in the New Year.

  19. Brave girl, soldiering on for the sake of the cherished holidays. No one expects a cold for a party favor, but in this case, it sounds as though it was completely worth it. I’m glad you and all the other Hobbits are healthy again!


  20. People are so generous with their germs. That’s why this year, I’ve shopped for my groceries on-line most of the time, to avoid all the coughing, sneezing, martyrs who drag themselves to stores and don’t know about washing their hands before touching everything. Dare I say, this is also the first year in a long time when I’ve not caught a cold or been knocked out by flu.

    Hope you’re fully recovered now xox

    1. Hi Sarah,
      I hope you are staying healthy. I’ve heard about people who shop on-line for groceries, and they have those services here. It is probably what has kept you well. May it always be so! Right now they are boycotting several big restaurants that don’t give workers paid sick leave, because then the cooks and food servers come to work sick and pass on their germs.

      I hope your winter writing is going well!

  21. It’s always a joy to see how you and your family celebrate the holidays, events and road trips. So much fun and adventure. Everyone shares a similar exciting zest for life. Wishing you and your loves ones an amazing 2013!

    1. Thank you! I feel the same way about you and your family. I feel like I spent the holiday with you and your extended family. What a great post. I wish you and your whole family a wonderful New Year!

  22. Sounds like loads of fun…all except the whole Cold Germ part…but, I’ve already got it, so, I’m definitely not worried about it going viral through my monitor.

    I remember reading Tolkien’s “Hobbit”….hmmm must have been @ least a hundred years ago now.,. I think I was like in the 6th grade…( which really was 42 years ago ) Amazingly, the book was first published in 1937 …some things truly are timeless…Keep the magic alive!!!
    ~Happy New Year~

    1. Hello there!
      I read The Hobbit in middle school ( MORE than a hundred years ago!) and I loved it too–the language, the characters, the story. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  23. A Joyous New Year to you and your family! those photos are so fun, love the huge feet 😀 and those happy hobbits so fun and lovely.
    hope you’re doing fine and Cheers to good health!

  24. Happy New Year, Mama Hobbit! That certainly looks like a fun party (with the ”handful” of friends, hehe). I hope you’re feeling much better now. 🙂

  25. You know most of the time we avoid spreading sickness, but to keep ourselves totally devoid of germs exposes us to no immunities. Teachers are immune to just about everything!!!! (If they’re lucky!!) If not they’re sick. Anyway… The next part of this comment is because I lLOVE your blog. Please accept this award as my sincere compliment, and enjoy it for what it means to you. If you want to pass it to another versatile blogger, you can check out the rules that I received here Thanks for being part of my life, Naomi. 🙂 Marsha Lee 🙂

    1. HI Marsha,
      Thank you so much! I appreciate your very generous comment, and will pass this along after things quiet down a little. I have really enjoyed your blog–it has been a pleasure getting to know you through your writing. I like your sense of fun! (You’d have made a great hobbit!) Best wishes for the New Year!

  26. You see what happens when you deign to place Canada Dry anywhere other than on it’s throne of King of Ginger Ale, we Canucks shipped down a nasty virus to show you the error of your ways. 😛 May 2013 be all that you hope for, and I promise to try Vernor’s next time I’m down Olympia WA way.

    1. Hi Rexlin,
      In that third picture you see Ally, a friend of my daughter’s, all dressed up. We have a costume room for people, and we have a storage room to keep props and dinnerware for dressing up the house and table. We can pull together stuff for a Norse longhouse, a Fairy Hill, Sci-Fiction party, Arabian Nights, and, of course, medieval or Renaissance dinners. Once, for a toga party, we hired a rent-a-temple for the backyard.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s