Saturday, December 27, 2014

games for kids from one to ninety-two

It's not that I love puzzles, but putting about ten pieces of a 1000-piece puzzle at Christmas--yelling BINGO each time one fits--is not something I want to go without. It is one of those traditions that I'm glad has remained in the family, despite most of us being (outwardly) less than enthusiastic about pulling out the card table and opening the puzzle box every year. My dad is the puzzle-meister, and I don't know if it's the BINGO that he likes the most or just making sure we have a low-stress excuse to sit together for a few minutes at Christmas, but he hasn't given up yet. And aren't we glad?

I think the puzzles started in American Fork; I was probably about 10. We even pasted "my" puzzle onto cardboard one year, framed it and hung it in my room for the next 8 years. (It was a sea turtle scene.) I'm pretty sure my dad intended each kid to get one pasted and framed, but the messy glue and the...moderate enthusiasm for puzzles assisted that part of the tradition to end. And that's ok. The puzzles have persevered and will continue to. Even Andy participated this year, even though he was home in Logan and the padres have moved to Las Cruces, by sending this scene of Provo, Utah. I think this gift sort of emphasizes the family support of the puzzles; we'd all like to be involved, and if it's from a distance, even better.
A looser tradition surrounds Tripoley in the Peterson clan. It's not technically a holiday tradition, but it is a game that it is tradition to play as a family once or twice (or thrice) a year--passed down through the generations. My first time playing was Thanksgiving 2008 with Nate's Peterson Grandpa. We can't play it every Sunday like Pictionary or Catch Phrase because it would lose its magic. It is a production of sorts; sorting and counting the chips, getting out the board, refreshing our knowledge of the hierarchy of poker hands, getting out the board. We have to play long enough to make it all worthwhile, and also there's the pretend gambling. These once- or twice-yearly games often occur near the holidays because we gather around the table after we eat, and playing Tripoley prevents us from staring dumbly at the ceiling or having to rely on intelligent conversation.
Some people call it Michigan Rummy, which I think is the name Grammy's mother (Grandma Christa) used for it. Grandma Christa was an earnest Tripoley player. She hand-painted a big wooden board (as opposed to the felt or plastic boards we usually use) with a big pretty cat in the "kitty" space. That is Nate's Clark/Christensen side, and his Peterson side also had a big player too, in Grandma Hazel. If you know me, you know those great-grandmotherly traditions are hard to resist so I bring up the game at every few family gatherings to make sure we all carry it on.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Piano

We acquired the piano! The piano I wrote about here. I was sure I had written something about it; it's a family heirloom. I just forgot to mention that we Petersons have obtained the instrament and moved it into our cozy* house with us. It's been here for months, but it's just as well that I didn't post about it before since I just took that photo of Norah last week, and it would have been a shame to leave that picture out of a piano post if I had written it previous to the photo existing. Right? Right.

*Code word for tiny

Not only has this piano been across the plains to Nebraska and back with my family, but my Aunt Evelyn also took it to Denver with her when she moved as a young woman, and then it moved around with her until she gave it to us in the early 1990s. She was actually the one who picked the piano they were supposed to get--she just told me that today. She was upset that it wasn't the right one, that this one was "too red," but "Mother" just said, "Nevermind," because she didn't want to cause a fuss about it. (She told me it cost $1,000.)

As it turns out, this is a great piano and Evelyn loves it, but her 8-year-old self was not impressed with its ruddy color. She would probably have been glad to know that it has faded considerably over the last 60 years. She took lessons on it until she was 14, at which point she got too busy lambing and didn't have time to practice. She would go from school to the lambing shed and then stumble to bed at about 10pm, at which point my grandma would take over for a few hours until the hired man would wake up for his shift in the wee hours of the morning. When she told me that she said, "I'm probably making it sound worse than it was," at which point I just laughed because I am sure I have never worked that hard in my life. She sort of gave up piano in earnest at that point, but she can play hymns and I always remember her playing this piano in our house when I was younger.