I remember the game of all games. Twelve of us were gathered around the large table my grandfather made for our family of 8. During this season of Covid-19s, this memory, of family fun, returns to my thoughts and reminds me how very important it is to realize and recognize the importance of family time.
Spoons was the game. If you have not played this game before, it is a game based on speed and luck. As the players sit around a table the leader starting with a full deck of cards passes the cards to the person on the left, one card at a time, the players, then, in order continue passing the cards to the next player on their left. Each person in the game is trying to find the four suits of one number/face card, for example; set of fours, set of threes, or set of Jacks, etc. There are spoons in the center of the table, one spoon fewer than the number of players.
As the cards are being passed around the table, if one player finds all four of their “set” they are to grab a spoon very quickly. All other players are then permitted to grab a spoon, whether they have a set of four cards or not. The person who is not fast enough, or aware enough to grab a spoon, is eliminated until a new game is started.
This game can become quite fun, fast, loud and physical. When playing with a large group of people there can be a bit of chaos while all are grabbing before the last spoon is taken. This was the event. The challenge was on!
I believe I was around the age of eight. Now you can imagine the excitement an eight-year-old could have with the possibilities of how crazy the game could get. I was beyond excited of the prospects of "beating all of their pants off". We had previously played many times with just the 8 of us, always making “big“ talk: “You all know I’m going to win” “You all are slower than Moses”, “Watch the spoons, they’ll be gone before your eyes”. I always called us a family of “big” talkers. These were great times.
In this game my dad and the uncles were bald. I do not remember who decided the new rule, but it was a great rule. You see, if the one left without a spoon was bald, each of the players would get to take a hand towel and rub the bald one’s head, for a shine. This made the game even more thrilling. Can you imagine as a child getting to rub your uncles bald head! I remember the laughter, I remember the giggles, I remember the rubbing.
Oh my goodness the game was a “Hoot”! The race was on! Not only were we focused on the cards that passed through our hands, but we were making sure to give attention to the amount of spoons that were in the middle of the table: had anyone snuck a spoon, secretly getting their set of cards, and still playing the game as a tease? The thoughts were also focused on making sure one of the bald uncles would be stuck without a spoon. For all of us kids, the real goal was “the Rub”.
Finally, Rick, the oldest son, grabbed a spoon! Chaos ensued! Twenty-two hands were grabbing, reaching, pulling at their chance to stay in the game! Neither Dad nor the uncles were out. Another round ensued. Two rounds later “the Rub” was won! We lined up and gave Uncle Harold the shine of his life! We could have stopped the game at that point, and all would have been fulfilled, but we continued on. It was a night of family fun.
This game is etched in my memory as one of the few times my whole family was together laughing, playing and loving. No one was angry, upset, frustrated, or in trouble. As we all got older, and became teenagers, there were so many issues that seemed to get in the way of game night.
I wonder; what if we had kept playing together, maybe one night a week of required family game night? What if we had cherished that time together and protected that time as if it were the life-blood of our families existence? Did we lose focus, did we allow life to become so busy that we lost the fun and joy of gathering together, loving?
Today, with the pandemic of Covid 19 controlling our very existence, we have had time to slow down, spend time together, ride bikes, walk, play games, complete puzzles.
Once a culture of people, so busy, running from this game to that game, from this event to that event, from this fundraiser to that one. We were busy going to the gym as our child went from school to evening daycare. We have been so obsessed with our physical appearance, our financial status, our social networking. Are families getting re-connected? Are families starting to see the value of togetherness? Are families recognizing that the things we did value are fleeting to say the best?
I ponder today, will we go back to our busy-ness? Will we go back to our life of building, what the world calls “Success”? Or will we continue to see the value in having a successful family of connection, laughter, and togetherness?
I think some of us will again get lost in the daily pressing on toward power, success and finances. This is not a bad thing, unless we are leaving family, connections behind.
Let us not allow anything again to take the place of quality family connection and relationship building. No matter our goals, no matter our issues, no matter our history; we can all set forward the goal of one night a week, or even a month, devoted to relationship building; a night to laugh, play, tease, giggle, hug, and fist bump our loved ones.