The Best Night Of The Month!

          As I write this blog (Monday morning), I’m looking forward to the best night of the month this evening— pokeno night! For those of you unfamiliar with pokeno, it is essentially bingo with a deck of cards. In other words, true mindless entertainment. So what makes pokeno night so special? Certainly not the game itself, although it can be fun, especially if you are winning.
          No, the reason my pokeno night is the highlight of the month is all about the people. I play pokeno with eleven dear friends who have seen me through difficult times and illness and have celebrated joys, such as the sale of my first book. Because several of my closest friends in the group have kids the same age as my son, we often share our parenting woes and triumphs, as well. For a writer, who works in the isolation of my home office all day, I treasure the opportunity to get out and see friends. Whoo hoo! Human interaction!
          Side benefits of pokeno night include good food and a fun gift. Many pokeno groups in my area play for money, with everyone chipping around ten dollars into a pot that the winner takes home at the end of the night. Our group decided we wanted to try something different. Everyone brings a gift (ten dollar limit), and the winner gets first pick out of everything that was brought. Second place picks second, as so on. Gifts items are often things like a cute holiday decoration for the house, a gift card to Starbucks or the local yogurt shop, or some luxury bubble bath and lotion— splurges I wouldn’t ordinarily by myself but love to have. It’s like having a birthday every month!  
          At some point in our game playing, we take a short break for refreshments, and the hostess for the evening will serve some yummy concoction that totally blows my diet but is always worth the calories. Over the years, I’ve brought home recipes for some pretty awesome desserts and snacks from my pokeno friends. In the past, we enjoyed a full dinner prepared by the hostess— think cheesy chicken spaghetti, homemade chicken enchiladas, or shrimp and corn chowder (yum!)– but preparing a dinner and dessert for twelve got to be too much to ask of our group of working mothers. Now we eat before we come but have dessert at break.
          While these side benefits of good food and fun gifts are nice, nothing beats the laughter, the support and, yes, the gossip (I know, I know!). I just couldn’t ask for a better group of ladies to hang out with once a month to share a completely indulgent, totally fun and so refreshing break from the craziness of life. Every first Monday night, you know where I’ll be! My pokeno night is just what this writer needs to recharge and reconnect.
          So what do you do to burn off steam or as a purely indulgent treat for yourself to recharge when life gets crazy?