I went to bed last night – counting the number of beds that my family now occupied. There were seven of us in the house – each to his/her own bed and bedroom. How decadent. Kevin and I (okay – one shared room), Ben (his is home for reading week!), Katya (although a late night arrival), David, Grandma, and Rita finished up the count.
No self-respecting thief would ever venture this way as the front door seems to be more like a revolving door of people coming and going. Last night was no exception as our neighbor Ray and his friend Kerry joined us for Family Day Dinner. That raised the count to nine.
I will always remember the pride I felt just before dinner. We decided to try our hand at the long-lost game of euchre. My family used to play euchre when I was younger. We’d spend so much time enjoying each other over that game of cards. Dad would always be the person to “tease” about a great hand – which then turned out to be a blow-out hand. Mom would be the quiet one holding the winning hand. Her “stealth” attitude and manner made her a formidable opponent. Last night I would have so loved to see Mom and Dad play with my children – maybe in a way they did.
It was Ray and Kerry vs Ben and I (then, later Katya took over while I fixed dinner). Honestly, I thought the roof would collapse from time to time as the laughter was thunderous. How delightful. What could one want more than to hear one’s children happy? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It is all I have ever wanted for my children is to hear them happy, to see them happy, to be able to participate in that happiness.
Well, what was more rewarding truthfully, was that my children were winning. Now, I am not a competitive person. In fact, I think I am so not competitive that it upsets people how calm I can be with a loss. Last night, though, I was rubbing it in that the LePage children were “smoking” the neighbours. I rubbed it in nicely though – not to offend – of course.
My heart swelled to see them playing together, supporting one another’s thinking, and while working together succeeding. My children. Our children. The ones Kevin and I raised were playing together for the victory. I’ll admit it was just a card game. But – what if that reflected life? What if they could work so effectively and happily together at life? I’m sure if anyone had been paying attention to “da mamma” they would have thought me a bit daft with my cheshire-like grin painted across my face. They were in “it” together for the win. And that – is what family is all about. Whatever the game – whatever the win – it is the art of playing together.
What a marked contrast that feeling is to what families in Syria must be experiencing this morning. How horrific to not be able to enjoy moments like that which I experienced only last night. To be terrified to leave the house lest there be nothing left when you return. To not be able to see a doctor because the hospital was just bombed. To not be able to send you own children to school for a better life – lest your children are killed. Clearly, “someone” or “thing” is in it for the win. What kind of win is it when the opponent is killed? What kind of joy would that sort of “victory” bring? I just don’t see it. That is not how I was raised, nor how I raised my own children. “Play fair, play hard, and always leave your opponent with his / her integrity.” If the opponent is stripped of integrity, it is not a game – it is not fair play – it is not right.
We did enjoy a wonderful dinner with our neighbours, even after they had gone down in defeat. Euchre, after-all, is just a game. Still, I was proud of my children who had, single-handedly set the tone of the evening. Together, we laughed. We told stories. We told jokes. We embraced each others’ differences. We were inclusive. We shared. These wonderful experiences are side-effects of playing with integrity.
If only the rest of the world – those who are out for “the win at all cost” would do the same.
Happy Family Day, everyone.