... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

The Bartenders and The Ronald McDonald House

I HAVE profound new respect for bartenders, and here’s why.

This past Saturday, the Ronald McDonald House held its Summer festival and yearly reception at the Cologne Beach Base Event location. In the midst of volleyball courts, tennis courts, inviting cushy outdoor furniture, and dry, smooth, floury sand, we volunteers from the House set up shop, sheltered from the sun beneath a canopy of overhanging grapevines.

Tables were laden with a moveable feast–most of which had been prepared at the House, with some volunteers bringing additional festivity foodstuffs. Our motto for this event: summer, vacation, beach, and friendship. Perfect timing as this gloriously sunny day was also International Friendship Day. The morning agenda welcomed doctors and donors and from noon until 5, families and their kids.

So here’s where the respect comes in. Hanna and I had bartender duty.

Hannah: “Tracie, have you ever done this before?”

Me: “No. You?”

Hanna: “No.”

Me: “We got this.” And with that, we laughed and continued our preparations.

On our cocktail list: Pink Dragon, Basil Mintjito, Planters Punch, and the Kids Cocktail. We actually did pretty well, receiving compliments on our newly founded but truly not-so-certain bartending skills. I mean, you want it to be right, you know?

A girl of about 5 or 6 approached me with her mom for a Kids cocktail. Mind you, this drink consists of orange, pineapple, and lime juices, blue Curacao, sparkling water, and orange and lime slices. And a cute little umbrella. I turned towards the girl after I had made what I knew was THE perfect drink and handed it to her, her eyes wide in anticipation. She took a big sip. She squeezed her eyes shut, scrunched up her face, and when she could finally unpucker, she blurted out, “Sour!” If I would have read the directions all the way through I would have known to slowly ease some Grenadine syrup onto the back of a spoon into all that tartness. Hanna made me aware. Well, you can believe I fixed that! She even came back for another. This says a lot about how our kids develop trust. If they know that they can depend on us to be dependable, they’ll always come back for more cocktails, love, whatever.

Another cute little incident: Several young boys came for their cocktails. Prepping as fast as I could, I turned and went to hand the first boy I saw the drink which wasn’t for him. “Oh, wrong boy’” I said. When I got it all sorted out and handed the right boy the right drink, he teasingly looked at me and said, “Am I the right boy now?” We both cracked up laughing. 

It was such a lovely day. We volunteers had an unspoken, yet palpable right as rain camaraderie among us. We all wanted the day to be good for the families and we all held each others’ backs. I took several of the German version of my books to give away as gifts and everyone who took one made a donation to our House. And that really was not my plan, but I was so thankful! We always need something–paper towels, etc. 

And of what I am certain, of is that nothing, really nothing is as heartening as making someone else feel good. 

In 13 years, the RMH has welcomed 4000 families (

I wish there had been a RMH when my son was young. Fortunately for me, because we lived in the same city as the hospital, I could drive to him every day–even if it meant rushing the wrong way down a one-way street because I couldn’t read German at the time and didn’t know what the sign said, or when as an infant he was moved to another hospital and I had no navigation system and began to see windmills and found myself headed towards Holland.

So here’s the question of the day: Can you give something back that you’ve never received? In a word, yes. First of all, if you never received that special something, you really know the value of it. Secondly, we were all born with the handbook for generosity and kindness, and the truth of the matter is, that the more we do for others the more we do for ourselves.

And that my friends is a win-win. 

P.S. Always be kind to your bartender!