A friend once told me that it is not so much the big events that our children will remember as they grow, but the longstanding traditions. For me, the best-held tradition is without question Sunday dinner. I don’t mean the meal, though my food preferences still lean towards the New England style I grew up with. I refer instead to the hour or two of family time I had each week before that meal was served.
Every Sunday after church, my grandfather came over for dinner. I don’t recall what my siblings did during those hours, but he and I spent them playing games. Occasionally it was checkers or something else, but mostly I recall cribbage. Unless you’re a Red Sox fan, you probably haven’t even seen a cribbage board, but we played endless matches. As I grew older, I was even able to win some. And I my head still resounds with the count.
Fifteen-two, fifteen-four, fifteen-six, and a pair is eight. Fifteen-two, fifteen-four, fifteen-six, fifteen-eight, and a double-double run of sixteen makes twenty-four. The occasional fifteen-two and let your voice fall. And once, in all those games, twenty-eight, a single-point short of the perfect hand. I remember dumping a pair into my grandfather’s final crib in the hope that I could count out before he ever got to see them, knowing that as dealer he was guaranteed at least one point for last card. It was strategy. It was probability.
It was relationship.
My children grew up a hundred miles or more from their grandparents, and we never made Sunday dinner a tradition. Sandwiched between homework and the press of outside commitments, even our family supper hour is rushed. And we stopped playing games back when Arthur and Candy Land grew old. Is it because they feel unfairly challenged? I don’t know, but I’m confident they could beat me today if they had taken up the challenge in their youth, as I did.
It’s too bad Minecraft graphics make me feel nauseous, because that might be the best way to interact with the next generation these days.