Traditional games at the various homes we spent our Christmases at:
Guessing games/ Quizzes
The game one or another of us had for Christmas that we insisted everyone play that year.
I didn't do so well at cards. I loathed bingo (still do) but charades and the guessing games and quizzes were always fun for me and the game we had was usually fun too - Mousetrap, Operation, Buckeroo, Kerrplunk, Monopoly etc.
I'm fortunate that I remember trivia - I don't know how or why, my brain just recalls facts and sometimes figures that are of no use at any other time.
Charades is always fun.
The very first Christmas I spent with Trev, we went to his parents' for tea. The fare was similar to what my grandmother always provided and there was plenty of it.
At my grandmother's, the game everyone played was Bingo and it meant silence reigned - whether you were playing it or not. Everyone packed into the one room, all demanding quiet so they could hear the numbers being called was utter torture for me - which is probably why I don't like it now.
At Trev's parents', there weren't quite as many people, and the atmosphere was different - I hardly knew anyone there and they didn't know me. I was the newbie... the interloper. Not the youngest there, but the newest face.
I knew Trev's mum and dad, of course - though they were still not quite sure of me.
Trev's sister, Sheila, her husband Tony, and their daughter, Trev's niece Trudi - Trudi and I had already met and we'd had a few moments - I'll write about them later...
Tony's mother, his sister, Phyllis and Phyllis' daughter Samantha.
So... eight people that I didn't know too well and they all knew each other. Of course, Trev was occupied by talking to everyone and there was me... 17 years old, not knowing how to interact with all these strangers. I had a few moments of wishing I'd stayed at my grandma's playing bingo.
The family warmed a little towards me by the time we'd finished eating and I suppose they figured Trev's young, there's time for him to find someone else...
Time for the games...
Charades - two sides, choosing topics from the newspaper for the opposing team to act out and guess, but first, the teams had to be chosen.
Sheila on one side and Tony on the other.
Guess who got picked last?
"Just like back at school," I thought... except, if it was a game of hitting something, like Rounders or Cricket, I'd always be picked near to the beginning because if there's one thing I could do well, it was hit or catch a ball, so there was a chance of not getting picked last.
That year set the standard for all the following Christmases where Charades was concerned.
I was handed the paper to choose the opposition's charade and they failed to get it in the time. "Ooh, good one!" my team exclaimed time after time.
Then, no matter whether I was acting the charade or guessing, I got the point and we were all laughing and I felt like I'd carved my own little niche in Trev's family's Christmas.
The next year, guess who got picked first - Tony and Sheila argued over who would have the first pick just so they could get me. Yeah, my niche was carved and occupied. I was part of the family and all it took was a take-no-prisoners game of Charades.
Santa’s Little Helper
A Dusty the Demon Hunter Story
D Michelle Gent
Dusty had to break the melancholy and as if on cue, the poem occurred to her and she stood up in the foot well of the sleigh, placed her hand on her heart to strike a dramatic pose, turned to Santa and recited the next verse.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
Santa looked at Dusty as she began to recite the words. He seemed puzzled for a moment and when she got to the lines:
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He couldn’t help himself. His smile appeared amongst his whiskers and he grinned, a broad, infectious smile and when his laughter broke free, Dusty laughed too.
Dusty carried on reciting the poem that she had thought she’d forgotten and the sleigh gathered speed and height and when she looked back, beyond the sleigh, the sparks coming off the runners were doubled in intensity and volume.
They were being thrown up behind them like the powered snow would be if they were on a sleigh down on the ground.
The sparkles glittered and glinted as they fell to earth and the recipients of those gifts would be certain to have a joyous and delightful Christmas, Dusty was certain of that.
The rest of the poem came unbidden to her mind in fits and starts over the course of the night’s work and she would find herself grinning for no apparent reason at the odd line.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
Dusty wondered how the poem had come to be written and she asked about it.
“Ah, that chap,” Santa said. “He caught me when my guard was down. I don’t know what I was thinking, it may have been that I was distracted, but I think it was more a case of fate. That poem is a wonderful celebration of my work and I am proud and honoured to be portrayed in it.”
Santa winked and the next part of the poem was placed neatly in Dusty’s head and she jumped in surprise.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
Santa laughed as though he had made the funniest practical joke that he had ever witnessed and Dusty couldn’t help herself, she laughed too.
She imagined the man that had written the poem, dressed in his night shirt and cap as Santa was discovered, filling the stockings and pillowcases, clogs and shoes all over the world with hope and strength to carry on in the face of disasters, wars, grief, misery and every awful, terrible, horrifying event that man has to face on any given day.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!