Deck of Cards or Deck the Halls?

© Whitewizzard /

For the most part, members of our family celebrated Thanksgiving in small “household units” of two, three or four as I’m sure many other families did around the country. This was the first year our infamous “green stuff” didn’t make its appearance on the table. It’s a molded Jell-O recipe my mother used to fix that became a family favorite served alongside the cranberry sauce. It would have been tricky to scale the ingredients down to size.

As soon as the dishes were cleared, the cards and shuffler were brought out. I’d never been much of a card player until my sister-in-law introduced us to Shanghai rummy, a game her family has enjoyed for years. The club where my father played duplicate bridge several times each week has been closed for the past eight months, so we’ve gone up to play rummy with him a couple of nights each week.

Over slices of pumpkin and mince pie and coffee, we debated whether to put up a Christmas tree this year since we won’t be having a large family gathering. If we don’t, this will be the second time we haven’t had a tree. In 1991, we offered our four boys the option of spending two days at Disneyland instead of the usual Christmas at home. I’d heard the lines were short on Christmas Day. The boys were eager to go and we were joined by their cousins from San Diego. It’s true, the lines were short, even at Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. Although we had a good time, I missed being home with a traditional tree and all the trimmings.

This has been such a sad, strange year. The Christmas tree farm we’ve gone to for years is closed for the season. The shopping mood downtown is subdued as we stand outside stores, socially distanced, waiting for our turn to be allowed inside. I miss the hustle and bustle of the crowds, the lights and decorations, the music, and the cheerful holiday greetings.

Maybe I’ll have to get a tree.

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