Holidays are accompanied by reminders of earlier celebrations. Green and red decorations and Christmas music automatically bring such reminiscences to mind. Some memories are poignant, carrying thoughts of childhood; others might be reminders of stress. A few recollections might be for a loved one who has died, and for whom the holidays were particularly important. Some notions are already promises for next year, about ways to make the festivities more meaningful. It's easy to be a little nostalgic around the holidays. Or you could enjoy other memories about foot-stomping, side-splitting times.

At a BMCC Christmas party about 30 years ago, I was helping to get ready for the crowd. Those planning the soiree had rented a place that would provide wonderful food and a lot of room for dancing. A band was hired and decorations were lovely. More than 100 tickets were sold. It promised to be a fine evening.

Just before the party, a friend and I were preparing the eggnog, some with alcohol and some without. The punch bowl of the "spiritless" eggnog was easy to fix. Pour in the eggnog, top it with whipped cream and sprinkle in a little nutmeg.

Getting the nog with "spirits" just right proved to be more of a challenge. My friend was pouring the eggnog from the cartons. I was pouring the rum. The problem was, we were laughing about wearing small Christmas candles sticking out of our ears for the party, and not paying much attention to what we were doing. We neglected the recipe altogether. Just as she ran out of eggnog, I put in the last drop of rum. No question about it, our eggnog had become extremely extraordinary, and topped by heady fumes.

We didn't have time or money to start over because the party was about to begin. We decided to surreptitiously add more eggnog to diminish the rum whenever the level of the special drink in the punch bowl went down. We also decided to not talk about our mistake and just see how it went. We weren't sorry; it was an absolutely outstanding holiday party.

The effervescent eggnog went quickly, only to be replenished again and again. The bowl of eggnog without alcohol stayed quite full, its whipped cream flattening and nutmeg melting into its surface.

What also happened was that all groups from the college intermingled. Everyone was laughing and dancing. People who didn't know each other were chatting. Numerous folks mentioned how wonderful the eggnog was; some people asked for the recipe. The incredible eggnog had done a fine job. The celebration was the best ever. It was such an easy recipe, too, half-and-half.

Another year, the college Christmas party was harder to plan. We didn't have enough money for the fancy place and we had trouble finding a band. Eventually, we found a place that would do. However, the band we hired was for the Lawrence Welk crowd. They played songs not quite slow and not quite fast. Finally, a dancer asked the band if they would play "Joy to The World," a truly fine piece of fast-dancing music with a definite beat by the group Three Dog Night. The band agreed immediately. The problem was that the Christmas carol "Joy to the World" was a totally different song than the one which had been requested. After that happened, people started laughing and dancing rapidly to all the music, no matter how fast or slow it was. The party picked up and a good time was had by all, I think, including the band.

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Cynthia Hilden's column appears every other Tuesday.

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