From December 27, 2014
Like most families, mine has its traditions when it comes to the holidays and get-togethers. Besides eating, eating and more eating, our biggest tradition is centered on card games, specifically hearts. The game of hearts has been a tradition for a good many years and we have spent many an hour passing around the queen of spades, aces and as many hearts as possible, hoping to maintain the lowest score.
Now, unlike most other people who play hearts, my family tends to be absolutely ruthless. We have no rules against dropping a heart or even the queen of spades on the first hand. And, to make matters even more fun, we usually play with double decks which means twice the points and two queens. On many occasions, one person ends up with both queens and a fistful of hearts which definitely doesn’t help with the whole avoiding points idea. I am particularly good at getting far more points than I want, much to the amusement of everyone else. Nonetheless, I love the game and the memories associated with it.
My age-mate cousins and I started playing when were still kids. Those first few games were slow, usually with an aunt or uncle sitting next to us, helping to guide us through the play, but it didn’t take long before we caught on. By the time we were teens my cousins had developed their own special strategy, which used to infuriate the adults to no end. While the adults planned and schemed, my cousins played pell-mell and then, at the very last minute won by hitting exactly 100 points, thus ending the game in one big explosion of points. After all the plotting and attempted manipulation, there was nothing worse than a bunch of young teens messing it up all with good luck and chance.
It has been many years now since those games and times have changed, but we still play the game. This year, four generations of my family gathered around the table to play, all of us geared up to whine, pass along the worse cards possible and scheme in hopes of avoiding the dreaded queens. But, no matter how the cards fall, we all know that the game is just a game, part of being in the family and that no amount of queen dropping or card passing will change the love that brings us together.