365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party

(Photo from Handmedownstyle.com)

It’s late-August and we are cooling off with the joy-giving, cool kids on a giant ice ring at “The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party.” 

The United States has hosted the modern Olympic games, which started in 1896, in six locations: Atlanta (Summer, 1996), Lake Placid, New York (Winter 1932 and 1980), Los Angeles (Summer 1932 and 1984—and slated to host Summer, 2028), Salt Lake City, Utah (Winter, 2002), Squaw Valley, California (Winter, 1960), and St. Louis, Missouri (Summer, 1904). 

“The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party” has two, Olympic gold medalists, Scott Hamilton and Shaun White, who carried the famous flag with the five rings, and comic genius Lily Tomlin, who created the snarky character, “Ernestine the Telephone Operator,” and her famous catchphrase—“One ringy-dingy…two ringy-dingy.” 


You feel the joy as you enter the Olympic ice-skating arena in Salt Lake City. At the 2002 Winter Games, 2,399 athletes from 78 nations thrilled audiences here for event after event, but we’re betting our seven celebrants can compete for joy-giving gold.  

HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.) 


Aug. 28—SCOTT HAMILTON (Scott Scovell Hamilton) is a figure skater and an Olympic gold winner. The signature move of this 5’4” athlete is a backflip, a feat that is not allowed under U.S. Figure Skating and Olympic competition rules, but he included in his exhibition routines as an amateur to give more joy to his captivated crowds. He is also recognized for his innovative footwork sequences. He is inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. 

Aug. 29—MICHAEL JACKSON (Michael Joseph Jackson) is the most-awarded music artist in history. Rollover Mozart and give Elvis Presley the news. He was a singer, dancer and songwriter dubbed the “King of Pop.” He began with his brothers in a group called “The Jackson Five,” which was created and micro-managed by their demanding dad, Joseph. Michael Jackson popularized the dance crazes “moonwalk” and the “robot.” He is included in these Halls of Fame: Rock and Roll, Vocal Group, Songwriters and Rhythm and Blues. His song hits include: “Thriller,” “Billie Jean,” “Got to Be There,” “The Girl is Mine,” “Bad,” “Beat It,” “Man in the Mirror” and my personal favorite title, “Ben.” 

Aug. 30—MOLLY IVINS (Mary Tyler Ivins) was a newspaper columnist, author, political commentator and humorist. Though born in California, she was raised in Texas and became an all-caps, TEXAN. “Forbes Media Guide Five Hundred” said this about her: “Ivins’s pithy assessments of politics and life at large crackle with broad Texas humor. Combining her talent for culling information with razor-sharp wit, she throws a powerful knockout punch…Whether one agrees with her or not, Ivins’s pen pierces both the brain and the funny bone.” 

Aug. 31—BUDDY HACKETT (born Leonard Hacker) was a comedian and actor. He suffered from Bell’s Palsy as a child, the lingering effects of which contributed to his distinctive slurred speech and facial expression. His best remembered roles include Marcellus Washburn in “The Music Man,” Benjy Benjamin in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” Tennessee Steinmetz in “The Love Bug” and the voice of Scuttle in “The Little Mermaid.” For his work in films, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Sept. 1—LILY TOMLIN is a comedian, actress, writer and producer. Her breakout role was on the variety show, “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” She has been awarded an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony, a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award and given the Kennedy Center Honors. 

Sept. 2—ROMARE BEARDEN was a world-class artist, author and songwriter. He worked with many types of media including cartoons, oils and collage. After his experience in the U.S. Army during World War II, he worked to express the humanity he felt was missing around the globe. “The New York Times” called Bearden, “the nation’s foremost collagist.” He was awarded the National Medal of Arts. 

Sept. 3—SHAUN WHITE is a professional snowboarder and musician. He is a three-time Olympic gold medalist in half-pipe snowboarding (2006, 2010 and 2018) and holds the world record for the most X-Games gold medals and most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder. 


“The only disability is a bad attitude.”—Scott Hamilton 

“To give someone a piece of your heart is worth more than all the wealth in the world.”—Michael Jackson 

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life—it gave me, me. It provided me the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life.”—Molly Ivins 

“As a child, my family’s menu consisted of two choices: Take it or leave it.”—Buddy Hackett 

“I always wanted to be somebody but now I realize I should have been more specific.”—Lily Tomlin 

“You don’t paint what you see, you paint what you feel.”—Romare Bearden 

“I’m proud of the USA. We’ve done some amazing things. To wear our flag in the Olympics is an honor.”—Shaun White 

“The fact that I like to show off and be the center of attention really lends itself to figure skating.”—Scott Hamilton 

“I’m going to search for my star until I find it. It’s hidden in the drawer of innocence, wrapped in a scarf of wonder.”—Michael Jackson 

“The essence of art is to recapture the fantasy and the imagination of a child again, but without the innocence of a child.”—Romare Bearden 

“Nice is a pallid virtue. Not like honesty or courage or perseverance. On the other hand, in a nation notably lacking in civility, there is much to be said for nice.”—Molly Ivins 

“My wife said to me, ‘I want to be cremated.’ I said, ‘How about Tuesday?’”—Buddy Hackett 

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”—Lily Tomlin 

“The artist has to be something like a whale, swimming with his mouth wide open, absorbing everything until he has what he really needs.”—Romare Bearden 

“Some people attach snowboards to their fee, very few attach them to their souls.”—Shaun White 

“I started skating and I kind of liked it that I could run rings around the guys who wouldn’t pick me for basketball.”—Scott Hamilton 

“My attitude is if fashion says it’s forbidden, I’m going to do it.”—Michael Jackson 

“You put down one color and it calls for an answer. You have to look at it like a melody.”—Romare Bearden 

“If his IQ slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day.”—Molly Ivins about a Texas politician 

“Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge, the other guy is out dancing.”—Buddy Hackett 

“If trying harder doesn’t work, try softer.”—Lily Tomlin 

“I think the way to become the best is to just have fun.”—Shaun White 

“Male figure skating is different than female figure skating; we’re not America’s sweetheart.”—Scott Hamilton 

“If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, then make a change.”—Michael Jackson 

“The first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.”—Molly Ivins 

“I grew up Jewish, but what makes a comedian has nothing to do with religion. Think of Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante, Jackie Gleason—all of them Catholics.”—Buddy Hackett 

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”—Lily Tomlin 

“There’s not really anywhere I can go without being recognized, but if I put my (carrot top) hair in a cap, that cuts the crowd in half.”—Shaun White 

“Everything that I’ve ever been able to accomplish in skating and in life has come out of adversity and perseverance.”—Scott Hamilton 

“I want to see how life can triumph.”—Romare Bearden 

“I try to be cynical but it’s so hard to keep up.”—Lily Tomlin 

“In a world filled with hate we must still dare to hope.”—Michael Jackson 

“Most people got to like me because I made them laugh; when they didn’t, I hit them.”—Buddy Hackett 

“If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question?”—Lily Tomlin 


APPETIZER—Molly Ivins Texas Enchilada Ring (stylemotivation.com) 

SALAD—Shaun White Fresh Snow Pea Salad (foodandwine.com) 

ENTRÉE—Romare Bearden Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Ring (tasteofhome.com) 

SIDE DISH—Lily Tomlin Veggie Ringy-Dingys (food.com) 

BREAD—Michael Jackson “King of Pop” Overs (allrecipes.com) 

BEVERAGE—Scott Hamilton Ice Ring Punch (see directions for making the ice ring below) 

DESSERT—Buddy Hackett Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Moonshine Bundt Cake (iambaker.net) 

ONE TO GROW ON—The full script of the Tony-winning play, “SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE,” which starred Lily Tomlin, is available in paperback. It is a brilliant and JOY-GIVING social satire with penetrating insights into heavy subjects such as class struggles, various inequalities and gender politics. This Broadway stage show from 1985 is enduring, wise, hilarious and powerfully relevant all these years later. 

“The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party” entertainment was seven rings of humdinger fun and feats. Romare Bearden created a collage of all the celebrants with a background that was a ringer of the jazzy blues he used for his famous Harlem Renaissance musician series including museum-goers’ favorite, “Out Chorus.” 

Michael Jackson “moonwalked” rings around the party venue performing a medley of his greatest hits. Winter Olympic gold medalists, Scott Hamilton, wow-ed with a figure skating routine he choreographed to highlights from Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” and Shaun White skateboarded rings and twirls around the ramped sides of the arena. 

Lily Tomlin brought “Ernestine the Telephone Operator” at her ring-iest and ding-iest. Her ultimate snark was delivered with this line, “How may I, in all humble servitude, be of assistance?” 

Molly Ivins shared this story that when a friend visited her at a Texas ranch recently, Molly dreamed she, Molly, wrote the “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy and the friend told her she had been hallucinating. “Apparently,” quipped Ivins, “I was Tolkien in my sleep.” 

This ring pun reminded Buddy Hackett of jokes from his Borscht Belt days and he ended “The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party” with this ring of jokes: 

“Back when I was married, my wife loved me so much that whenever she went out with her friends, she would take off her wedding ring and leave it at home, so she wouldn’t lose it.” 

Hackett added, “The three rings of marriage are: engagement ring, wedding ring and…suffering.” 

Raising his glass to toast his fellow birthday, Buddy Hackett said, “Happy Birthday to all and let me tell just one more ring joke before the bell rings.—At a cocktail party, one woman noticed another wearing her wedding ring on her middle finger. The observant lady asked, “Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?” The other woman replied, “Yes, I am. I married the wrong man.” 

Let’s ring in our new year, folks…and a ring-a-ding-ding! 

                                   HOW TO MAKE A SUMMERTIME PUNCH ICE RING 

                                                           (Source: allrecipes.com) 

  1. Use a metal Bundt pan, a silicone Bundt pan or find a plastic/rubber ring mold online 
  1. Choose colorful, summertime fruits, berries, cubes of melons and chopped peaches 
  1. Add sprigs of summertime herbs like mint and rosemary 
  1. Layer the prettiest fruits first because when you flip the ice ring into your punch, that is what your guests will see first 
  1. Fill your ice ring with the punch you plan to serve 
  1. Freeze until solid and add to your punch bowl just before your summer gathering comes together 

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Ben South