Dear Liza,

This Christmas, while Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle were visiting, we got to revive a holiday tradition from my family. We played Canasta!

Canasta is a card game that was very big at my parents’ house. I learned it as part of being the family, and any people serious about marrying into the family had to learn to play, as well. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Christy got really good!

Canasta is played with two decks of cards and has lots of rules. Red threes are worth 100 points, black threes are good for freezing the pile. You need 50 points to meld, until you have 1200 points, when you need 90. Learning this game as a child taught me to think ahead, pay attention to details, and count like crazy.

And last night we got to do it again. We played On Great Grandma Billie’s table with her double deck and reviewed the rules as we went along. We were surprised to find out how much we remembered… even down to my Mom’s expression, “Let’s go out now and catch ‘em with their pants down!”

Grandpa Nelson and Kyle whupped us the first game, but Auntie Christy and I came back and passed them to win the set. It was nice to win, but even more fun to be playing a game that was so much a part of every gathering in my family.

It is like making the family whole again, after losing Great Grandpa Lowell, Great Grandma Billie, and Uncle Jim. Like the characters in my story, we are learning that with the love and history we share, we are enough of a family to go forward.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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