“Our family is a circle of love and strength. With every birth and every union, the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love. Every obstacle faced together makes the circle stronger.” --Joseph Campbell
With its shorter days, and cooler nights, the approaching holiday season evokes cozy memories of hot chocolate, jigsaw puzzles, and evening hours spent together playing board games. Although the family I grew up in didn’t play many board games, the family I married into did.
My husband’s family moved from Guam to the Bay Area in the early 1960s. Although we grew up in the same town, our paths didn't cross until my senior year in high school.
After marriage, we spent a great deal of time at his folk’s house, mostly due to the fact that our cupboards were bare, and his mom was a great cook.
At barely 5 feet tall, she was the heart of our family. Of Hawaiian descent, she loved Don Ho, bare feet, muu muus, and most of all, her children. From the moment we met, she embraced me as her own, and included me in her circle of love.
My in-laws raised seven children in a small three-bedroom house, and it was there that everyone gathered for the holidays. After the turkey, sweet potatoes, and Kalua pig were all devoured, out came the green felt tablecloth in preparation for a rousing game of Tripoley.
Tripoley is a card game which combines elements of Poker, Rummy and Hearts. Instead of betting with poker chips, we used pennies, which were saved throughout the year just for the occasion.
The adults gathered around the felt covered table with babes in arms, while the children played games such as Twister and Mousetrap on the floor in the adjoining family room, anticipating the day they could join the adult table.
I was reminded of this family tradition by my oldest son, who had been one of those babes in arms.
A game of Tripoley with friends triggered his memory of our family game nights, which came to an end when the heart of our family was taken from us, making the tradition too poignant to continue.
Today those babes in arms have children of their own. We'll soon gather together once more; this time, around my table, here in Roseville, to celebrate the holidays with turkey, sweet potatoes and Kalua pig.
Perhaps the healing power of time has made it possible to once again unfold the green felt, and dig out our pennies for a rousing game of Tripoley.
The adults can hold the babies; and the newest generation of children can play games close by, anxiously awaiting their turn at the grownup’s table.
Although the empty chairs in our circle won’t go unnoticed, with grateful hearts we’ll give thanks for every birth, every union, every joy and every obstacle, which has made our circle stronger.