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Holiday Guest List 

I don't know about you, but I get all my ideas from Martha Stewart (see page 13). With its various parties and holiday gatherings, this season brings all manner of visitors to our homes, some (listed below by their Latin names) easier to care for than others.

Gossipmeanis

Care: Harmless gossip is something you would say about someone, even if they were in the room. If you encounter a particularly mean-spirited species who insists on sharing the other kind (not jolly holiday behavior!), there's a way to handle it that will neither hurt nor encourage the gossipmonger.

Keeping: Take the high road and a cue from one Mrs. Patty Hankins of Lake Charles: (As a preacher's wife, she had to navigate some tricky waters among the gossipy ladies in the church.) "I just listen and then say, 'And there you have it!' smile real big, and change the subject."

Drunkestamongus

Care: Not the most lucid life in the greenhouse, this species need not be handled so delicately, but should be watered often. Because these organisms often resist pure water, you should offer to bring them their next cocktail and hand them a very watered-down version, along with a plate of party food. Anyone for coffee?

Keeping: As this species can be very entertaining, keep them around for kicks, so long as you can determine that they pose no threat to your carpet or upholstery. But their altered state can impair memory, so as a good host, you should record their antics with a video or camera phone and send it to them the next day.

Peppycarolingus

Care: Attempting to quiet this driven-to-sing sort can be futile, especially those who are a hybrid mix of the above-mentioned species. So you may have to give in.

Keeping: If you come bearing glad tidings and a good karaoke machine, you're welcome at my house anytime!

Until next year,

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