Monthly Archives: November 2023

The 2023 Stocking Stuffer of the Year Award!

Kenny Brechner - November 30, 2023

Aragorn counseled Arwen to reconsider her adjuration that he continue to rule and live past the time in which he could maintain his integrity. “Take counsel with yourself, beloved, and ask whether you would indeed have me wait until I wither and fall from my high seat unmanned and witless.” In reading that, I felt that Aragorn was speaking to me about the Stocking Stuffer of the Year Award. Once a source of fair-minded excellence and moral stature, the award has suffered indignity after indignity in recent years as judge after judge awarded the top award to themselves, despite making solemn vows to avoid that ignoble shaming.

Was the award at the point reached by Aragorn? Was it time to retire it? I decided to give it one final chance. After all, I had in the store a judge renowned for unwavering ethical fortitude: The Surprize Ball.

Kenny: Is it true, oh Surprize Ball, that you judge through a kind of enlightened consensus?

Surprize Ball: That is so. As you know, I am comprised of six hidden presents and my judgments are reached by achieving a consensus of all six.

Kenny: Fantastic. And do you solemnly vow to not surprise me by awarding yourself the grand prize?

Surprize Ball: I do so solemnly vow.

Kenny: Phew. Okay, so let’s get going with our first category: The Most Elegant Stocking Stuffer. Our contestants are the sublimely cute Sleeping Cat Blind Box, the auspicious Magic Animal Scratch Pads, the debonair Favorite Things Gel Pens, and the stylish Nekoni Stickers.

Surprize Ball: We have gathered, we have deliberated, we speak with one voice. The winner is the sublime Sleeping Cat.

Kenny: Well deliberated, oh venerable Surprize Ball. Our next category is The Most Rambunctious Stocking Stuffer. Here are our energetic contestants: the gregarious Flip-Over Stunt Truck, the wondrous Wobbli, its cousin the adorable Wobbly Woofer, and the fearsome Dino Tube.

Surprize Ball: We have gathered, we have deliberated, we speak with one voice. The winner is that wellspring of wonder, the Wobbli.

Kenny: Well deliberated again, oh venerable Surprize Ball. And now for a most difficult category: The Most Emotionally Supportive Plush. Our steadfast contestant friends are the sympathetic Possum, the learned Llama, the regarding Rabbit, and the affectionate Cat.

Surprize Ball: We have gathered, we have deliberated, we speak with one voice. The winner is the emotional support Possum.

Kenny: Delicately decided, oh venerable Surprize Ball. And now for our final category: The Stocking Stuffer of the Year Award. Our auspicious entrants are the aptly-named Magic Butterfly, the fabulous Fresh Cut Flowers, the regal plush Tarantula, and the breathtakingly charming Spinning Fruit Top.

Surprize Ball: We have gathered, we have deliberated, we speak with one voice. The winner is that most mystical stocking stuffer: The Surprize Ball!

Kenny: What!!! Noooooo! You promised not to surprise me.

Surprize Ball: We didn’t surprise you.

Kenny: What do you mean?!!

Surprize Ball: We Surprized you!

Pajama Night 2023

Kenny Brechner - November 17, 2023

Last night marked the 2023 iteration of my favorite event of the year: Jammie Night!

Jammie Night, aka Prime Time Reading Night, which takes place at Mallett Elementary School, has ingredients that would be the envy of any event. For example, it is comprised of an actively shared love of reading, widespread community support, partnerships, great authors, a great crowd, amazing decorations, and pajamas.

Here’s how it works: the Mallett community comes back to school at 6:00 in the evening—parents, kids, teachers, librarian, principal—all dressed in pajamas for an evening of read alouds. I produce a children’s book author. The evening starts with that author reading her book to the assembled throng in the gymnasium, which has been lavishly decorated around the book’s theme. Afterwards, families can either go listen to one of five different community readers in five different classrooms, read together in the gym, or purchase a book and have the guest author sign it. The evening ends with the author reading a second book to the whole audience and then concludes with goodnights and more book signing.

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