I grew up in Cape Coral at the end of a long dirt road. My parent's house was on one side of the street, and my grandparents lived on the other. I didn’t always appreciate having my family so close, but oh boy, did I take advantage of it!
Every afternoon after school, I stuck my head through my grandparents’ front door and asked, “What are you guys having for dinner?” When I got an answer, I headed across the street to see what my mom was cooking. Then, I picked the house with the best meal and camped out at the table.
My grandparents’ house was like my second home, and my Grandma did everything she could to keep my cousins and me there as long as possible when we visited. I swear, she would have loved it if we stayed for an entire month straight. When I made a move to leave, she always roped me back in with one of her signature questions.
These were a few of them:
“Tim, do you want a snack?”
“Do you want to watch a movie?”
“Do you need a nap?”
Those were all pretty effective, but her real go-to move was:“Tim, do you want to play Skip-Bo?”
Skip-Bo was Grandma’s all-time favorite card game. It’s kind of like a combination of Uno and Phase 10. You start with 30 cards in your pile and five in your hand, then use your cards to build runs in the middle of the table, taking turns with the other players.
We never made it through a round of Skip-Bo without cracking up. It was Grandma’s favorite game, but she always mispronounced it! She called it Skip-Bo, Skip-Boo, Skip-Coo, Skip-Do—you name it, she said it that way at least once. It was so bad that the mispronunciations became an inside joke for the whole family.
The other hilarious thing about playing Skip-Bo was that Grandma always cheated.If she messed up and played the wrong card (giving the next person the setup they needed), she took her card back and replayed—even if we were two turns past her! She knew exactly what she was doing,but she just giggled and played the “silly old Grandma” card. It got to the point that my cousin and I started cheating back, but we took it to the extreme. We hid cards, pulled cards, and did anything we could think of to win. When Grandma caught us, the games spiraled into a playful argument, with everyone accusing everyone else of cheating!
Grandma loved playing Skip-Bo, but she loved hanging out with us more. All the way into my 20s, she asked me if I wanted to stay the night.Usually, I told her, “Nah, thanks Grandma, but I’m going to head home.
”Looking back now, I can’t help but think I should have done things differently. I didn’t have anything going on—would it really have been so hard to visit more often? Stay a few hours longer? Play another hand of Skip-Bo? Watch another “Golden Girls” episode with her, or yell at the screen during “Wheel of Fortune” with my Granddady? Of course it wouldn’t have.
If you’re spending time with your family during the holidays this year, do your future self a favor and take your time. Stay a little longer, savor the laughter, and hug everyone a little tighter. In 20 years, you’ll be glad you did