Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Deal Me In

I think the reason I don't like the holidays as much as I used to is because so much has changed from when I was young. Thanksgiving was always a time for the whole family to get together. It was a warm, cozy feeling to be part of such a large family, where you were never lost for company or people who loved you. My wife and I try to create that atmosphere now, but it isn't quite the same. Since my parents died my siblings and their families rarely get together, and when they do the feeling isn't the same as it was in the days of yore. We usually meet at my sister's house because she has the most space, and although she's a gracious hostess and everyone has a good time, the feeling of "home" is not there. For me the holidays will never be the same, but hopefully when my children and their families get older they'll come back here and feel that there's a certain magic in coming home.

One thing that I miss about holidays back home is the poker game. After the meal the women would clear the tables off and do dishes while the guys would stand around and talk. Inevitably someone would always bring up the subject "So... you want to get a game going?". At which all the adult men would congregate around the kitchen table, or a card table if the ladies had taken control of the large kitchen table, and fish through their pockets - or their wive's purses - for loose change. I wasn't allowed to play until I was older, so a lot of times I would just sit and watch. It was usually a two-penny ante to start the game, unless someone got really brave and told you to throw in a nickle, at which they would risk drawing the ire of my dad. You see, he insisted that the bets be kept low because he was afraid of someone losing their gas money, or their kid's lunch money, or having to dip into their savings account, so any bets above a dime or quarter and you'd hear him raise his voice "Hey are you trying to rob us?". Also, I think, it was because he didn't believe in gambling and didn't consider small wagers as anything more than having fun. Anyway, when you got everyone at the table the game was usually secondary to the talk going back and forth. Usually, several times through the course of a game, play would get stopped while everyone was talking, then they'd have to backtrack to figure out who bet last, or whose deal it was, or even who won the pot. The game would eventually end when people started going home, the wives and kids with coats on waiting by the door while the guy finished out the hand and counted his winnings, declaring "Whoa! I won thirty four cents!".

The card game was an essential part of our holiday get together. Although we still play once in a great while the games don't last as long and the atmosphere feels different. Talk will almost always go back to those games we had when we were all younger, and I know it's not only me who misses the good old days.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Oh Tim,

I know exactly what you mean! I dread the holidays these days -- all those memories are tough to deal with. My favorite new holiday is the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve -- no expectations, no work, just sleeping, eating, drinking, hanging out with friends, and all the pressure is gone. Here's to getting through it all this year!

11:27 AM  

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