“Now before we eat or open presents I want all those cell phones put away- grandsons no XBOX. It’s FAMILY TIME!” Big Momma said, sounding both like a drill sergeant and a cheerleader.
The shock on the teens faces made me chuckle.
Almost twenty-five years ago on a Christmas Eve Eve, I too held the same expression. Instead of an iPod I had to put down my Sony Walkman for a pair of dice and a finger-size metal horse (if I was lucky to grab it first).
While Mommy’s pies were baking and her rolls rising in preparation for our Christmas feast, she would first set out a worn square board and rainbow paper money. It was the only time I remember her taking a break.
As recipients of a mother’s poured out sacrifice, of overtime-working-gifts, under the tree accompanied with long hours shopping, holiday-loaded fridge-we sat when she requested our presence.
Mumbling under our breath we would each find our unwritten, but family known seat at the table. And for the next three hours we were forced to play the complete game of Monopoly with Mommy. (Yes, the WHOLE GAME y’all).
She would beat us bad and tell us she loved us all at the same time. Don’t know how, but she always won. LOL!
As we traveled down Boardwalk and Baltic Avenue my attitude would change and so did the atmosphere in the room.
My once “get out of jail” mentality of mandatory family time would transform to a “free parking jackpot” -resembling the wealth I felt once I realized what a lottery of love my family possessed.
That good-down-to-your-soul-loving, not needing to be spoken, but giving off an aroma as sweet and fragrant as those dark orange pies I had been smelling all day-would envelope my heart without me even knowing it.
I get it now Mommy.
And now on this Christmas Eve Eve we both tag team, protecting the sacredness of the ministry of family time in the gift of oneness.
That’s what a good board game will do-bring everybody together with one focus. The children, like I in my naivety thought it was all about winning-but mothers know the purpose of the game is to draw everybody together -nearer.
Instead of Monopoly, the game is Scategories.
I strategically pair my children and the cousins with partners that I know will both compete and give each other comic relief because I know we are going to be here awhile.
“Why are we doing this?”
“This is going to be soooooo boring?
“Who does this any more?”
They whine and groan.
And slowly within minutes the pull of Facebook statuses, Instagram selfies and XBOX levels, slowly disappear. The smell of Mommy’s sweet potatoe pies lingers under my noes- and the same, but newer version of our family tradition of oneness is transferred.
“Ooooooo, can we play another game?”
“This is so much fun.”
“Our family is tight (awesome)!”
They cheer and receive.