Many years ago my son was given a Yard Glass for his 21st Birthday. He proceeded to fill it with beer and began drinking while the neighbourhood vibrated from the noise of his friends chanting as he gulped. By the time his suffering had finished and he was splattered with beer, he passed this on to the next victim in line to compete in this strange ritual.

The aftermath of this party was the cleanup. When done, hubby and I were left with the dilemma of not only wondering how to clean this huge thing but also what to do with it. What does one do with a Yard Glass after the reason for its existence has passed? You can’t simply throw it away. After all, it was a gift, and an expensive one at that. But when would it be ever used again. Its owner is only 21 once. We found a spot for its eternal stay, alongside that of all the now useless trophies. And there it was laid – taking up valuable storage space, useless and unwanted – or so I thought.

This glass has now become a 21st family tradition. It comes out every year or so to be handed down the line, first to the second son then on to all the nephews. On Saturday, the last of my 7 nephews had no choice but to continue this tradition even though he is a non drinker. Out of the box it came again, with coloured stickers now almost covering the entire glass. The nephew had the first sip then passed it on to all the other willing participants who each attempted to be the ‘hero’ and drink its entire contents. None could of course, to which as a mother and aunty, this was pleasing.

You may be wondering about the stickers. Well, just like in the movie “The Rat Race” with John Cleese, son number one also bets on anything and so, prior to each use, the guests are encouraged to place a sticker at the level where they believe the Birthday Boy will drink to. The closest takes all. Stickers are impossible to remove and this 21st is the 9th use of this Yard Glass.

At the end of the night, relaxing under the outside heater I couldn’t help but notice the sheer relief on the faces of my brother and his wife as the last of their seven sons had become of age and finally these hectic and expensive parties were over.

For me, thoughts turned to The Yard Glass. It was sad to know that this weird little tradition of both families gathering around a simple piece of strangely shaped glass celebrating together has now come to an end and The Yard Glass will be packed away once and for all. As I spoke of this sad event, a small voice piped up and said “No Way, my 21st is only 3 years away and Grandpa, can I have my party here?”

WOO HOO, looks like the tradition will continue for another generation. I glanced over at “Grandpa”. He had almost slipped off his chair.




“Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at the people who belong to us we see the past, the present, and the future” – Gail Lumet Buckley