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The Bowling Ball

Over the summer I wrote an entry about one of my family’s strange traditions: the giving of the bowling ball at Christmas.

Wanting to document the history of the ball (and any other strange traditions unique to my family), I declared on Christmas Eve 2011 that I was going to start a blog and feature the ball before Christmas 2012.

So far, I haven’t done the best job of telling the ball’s story, other than a little tease of how it was introduced into my family.

In case you need a refresher, it was a joke gift between my older sister and my Uncle Mark after they found the lonely ball at a church fundraising dinner and auction during my childhood. For a few years it was passed back and forth between them (much cheating happened to ensure they got each other’s names in the Thanksgiving day drawing for our Christmas present exchange), but one year it was given to a long-time boyfriend of someone in my family, and when that couple broke up, the ball was lost.

A few years passed without a bowling ball being present, but then one year, about 13 years ago, a new ball was found somewhere and given to my mom that year in order to bring the tradition back.

To prevent the new ball from being lost again, a new “rule” was made about the passing of the ball, whereby only actual members of the family (by blood or marriage) could get the ball. Over the years the passing of the ball has been documented, and we proudly display the pictures on a poster-board at our Christmas Eve gathering, which always takes place at my Grandma Rose’s house. During our Thanksgiving dinner get-together, I used my camera phone to copy the pictures, so the quality isn’t the best but you’ll find a brief photo history of the ball below.

Year One: Mom receives bowling ball 2.0, along with a note that instructs her to restart our tradition.

Year One: Mom (or my step-dad Tom) receives Bowling Ball 2.0, along with a note listing out the instructions to restart our family tradition.

Year Two: Grandma Rose gets a fancy date for New Year's. A teddy bear may have been beheaded in the process of creating the ball's body.

Year Two: Grandma Rose gets a fancy date for New Year’s. She is instructed to “party like it’s 1999” with her new buddy. (A teddy bear may have been beheaded in the process of creating the ball’s body.)

Uncle Leo gets the ball, along with a bunch of old stuff he'd left in storage at my grandma's house. The guitar was actually Leo's when he was a kid.

Year Three: Uncle Leo gets the ball, along with a bunch of old stuff he’d left in storage at my grandma’s house. The guitar was actually Leo’s when he was a kid.

Year Four: My Great-Uncle Tony (Muck) gets the ball. I can't remember what it was supposed to be dressed like, but Uncle Muck was always there at Christmas Eve, so it was fitting that he be included in this tradition.

Year Four: My Great-Uncle Tony (Uncle Muck) gets the ball. I can’t remember what it was supposed to be dressed like, but Uncle Muck was always there at Christmas Eve, so it was fitting that he be included in this tradition.

Year Five: My little sister Emily ended up with the ball this year. Uncle Tony passed away during this year,  the ball was  given back to Grandma, who dressed it up as a geisha for Emily (who was obsessed with Asian cultures at the time).

Year Five: My little sister Emily ended up with the ball this year. Uncle Tony passed away during the year, and the ball was given back to Grandma, who dressed it up as a geisha for Emily (Emily was obsessed with Asian cultures at the time).

Year Six: Aunt Barbie, notorious for her love of the water receives the ball dressed up like a girl ready to hit the water, complete with string bikini.

Year Six: Aunt Barbie, notorious for her love of the water receives the ball dressed up like a girl ready to hit Party Cove, complete with string bikini.

Year Seven: Aunt Carol gets a boat themed creation because of her on nautical adventures. This time it's the captain of the ship instead of a Party Cove goer.

Year Seven: Aunt Carol gets a boat themed creation because of her own nautical adventures. This time it’s the captain of the ship instead of a Party Cove goer.

Year Eight: My Aunt Dianne gets a blast from the past, as her ball is dressed like a belly dancer-- to remind her of the time she signed up for those classes in her youth.

Year Eight: My Aunt Dianne gets a blast from the past, as her ball is dressed like a belly dancer– to remind her of the time she signed up for those classes in her youth.

Year Nine: Uncle Tom (aka Dr Tom), the family veterinarian gets a new partner for his practice.

Year Nine: Uncle Tom (aka Dr Tom), the family veterinarian gets a new partner for his practice.

 

Year Eleven: Back to Barbie, but this time with the spa treatment, to remind her of the surplus of cucumber she convinced my uncle to grow over the summer.

Year Ten: Back to Barbie, but this time with the spa treatment, to remind her of the surplus of cucumber she convinced my uncle to grow over the summer.

Year Eleven: A chef, to honor my brother who was in chef school at the time. Not pictured is a framed article featuring my brother's work at an event while undergoing his training. We were all quite proud of Danny that year.

Year Eleven: A chef, to honor my brother who was in chef school at the time. Not pictured is a framed article featuring my brother’s work at an event while undergoing his training. We were all quite proud of Danny that year.

Year Twelve: Jeff, who married into the family in 2010 gets a hunting buddy. If you're having trouble locating the ball in this picture, it's okay... he's camouflaged. :)

Year Twelve: Jeff, who married into the family in 2010 gets a hunting buddy. If you’re having trouble locating the ball in this picture, it’s okay… he’s camouflaged. :)

Well, there you have it, twelve years of semi-embarrassing family photos. We might be a little strange, but this tradition is just one of the many things I love about my family.

Counting the original ball, this little tradition has been going on for almost 20 years, and I have a hard time remembering what was exchanged before the ball was introduced. Looking back, that’s quite a lot of balls we’ve dressed up over the years.

The big question this year is who will get it and be lucky #13 for Ball 2.0? Stay tuned to a special update after Christmas Eve to find out who the lucky person is, and what crazy story will be told with the passing of the ball.

Does your family have any traditions that might seem strange to outsiders? I’d love to find out if other families have similar joke gift exchanges, or if there are any holiday traditions weirder than this one.

In some of these pictures, another family tradition can be observed– kudos (or maybe even a special prize) will be given to anyone who figures out the other tradition. (Dear family members who read this, don’t spoil the fun “Easter egg hunt” for anyone else.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responses (6)

  1. Josh says:

    it’s the red Christmas sweaters with the dog on them. I so win this!

    • Katy says:

      Josh, you are absolutely correct! I’ll have to come up with a good prize for getting it so quickly.

      • Josh says:

        Obviously I need a christmas sweater! or perhaps I could convince you to pay a visit to the geektangent studios.

        • Katy says:

          I like the sound of that second idea! Name the time (and the place– I imagine that is top secret information like the BatCave) and I’ll work it into my schedule.

          Unfortunately I think those Christmas sweaters went extinct– I found one a few years ago on eBay and snatched it up for my one aunt who didn’t have one yet.

  2. […] Family traditions are very important to me, and it’s always cool to learn the history behind certain things my family does every year. […]

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