My sister’s family and our mom came to visit a couple days over the Thanksgiving holidays so the house was full of people and pets getting along for better or worse. Despite the work of helping my youngest clean up the mess in her room so we could actually see the floor and the beds that the teens would sleep in, and of preparing for a big dinner, I loved seeing my relatives again. I am very family-oriented so it pains me that we are unable to visit more than a few times a year and I truly appreciate the times we do have together.
After the big dinner some of us sat down to watch a tape of A Charlie Brown Christmas, a perennial must-see holiday necessity for my sister and I to get into the spirit of Christmas. Then all nine of us played Progressive Rummy, in which each round of card playing becomes progressively more difficult. My youngest sat on my lap as I taught her to how to play and develop strategies, and we won in spite of sitting next to my brother-in-law who snaps up most of the cards with his own unique (and often annoying!) strategy. Next time, we’re going to draw straws to see who has to sit in the spot after him!
Our pets had quite an interesting time. Little Miso, a Yorkie mix, came along for the visit and gave our cats a scare. After a day, though, Maddie pretty much ignored the dog and Tibby actually began stalking her to get close enough to get in a swipe! Our good-natured Buddy dog handled all with his usual aplomb.
My sister and I had fun reminiscing about childhood TV shows after I read in the paper that the Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoon is 43 years old now, the longest running holiday special in TV history. That means I was five years old when it first came on. I remember watching it one year for the first time in color, and wasn’t that a huge excitement! My sister and I had these large plastic blow-up reindeer our dad had bought for us at a gas station, and we played with those during the show, moving their legs to make them run and fly. We then remembered Romper Room and the do-bee song and the marching parade in which we beat on tinny pans with a spoon or pair of chopsticks as we circled in the living room. When we were older there was Dark Shadows which we would race home from the school bus stop to watch, drawing the curtains to darken the room and set the atmosphere to a higher level of mystery and excitement.
It was so great reminiscing with my sister because she reminded me of things I had long forgotten. And so, during these holiday times I encourage all to talk about the old stories with family and friends to get a fuller picture of life in earlier days, laughing and discovering hidden memories that brighten eyes and smiles as we share of ourselves, binding our hearts closer.
Progressive Rummy (our version)
Shuffle three decks of playing cards, minus jokers, and deal out six cards per person. Place the top card of the remaining deck face up beside the deck. The person to the left of the dealer may choose that card or pick one from the top of the deck and then make a discard. Other players may ask to “buy” the first face-up card or any discard thereafter, with the person nearest to the left of the player whose turn it is being allowed to buy the desired card. The buyer must also take the top card of the draw pile.
The object of each round is to complete the required hand with as few extra cards as possible. After completing the requirement, a player lays down his cards during his turn, keeping any extra cards and making a discard. As other players lay down cards, they may use their extra cards to add to other card sets or runs laid down. When a player has no cards left, all other players add up their cards, with face cards worth ten points and aces fifteen. For the very last round the winning player will have no extra cards left in his hand except for one discard if necessary. The player with the lowest total score wins. If there are more than four or five players, a fourth deck of cards may be used. If desired, jokers can be used as wild cards.
Round One: 2 sets (set is three cards minimum of same number or face, any suit)
Round Two: 1 set, 1 run (run is four cards minimum in a row, same suit, ace high or low)
Round Three: 2 runs
Round Four: 3 sets
Round Five: 1 run, 2 sets
Round Six: 2 runs, 1 set
Round Seven: 3 runs