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T’was the night before Christmas



People were shopping and wrapping like mad

So today is Christmas eve and I am with the fam [family]…watching us all wrap presents and shop at the last minute because what else would we do? Well actually we do usually do something else on Christmas eve as a tradition every year. We go to the casino!

No kidding. So how is this make for a good family tradition? We spend it together as family, having fun as families should. For the past few years we have created a wonderful family tradition of spending time laughing and gambling. We set a time to meet and we have dinner together; sitting at a large round table. Some of the wait staff knows our name – but they all remember our faces. Very year it’s new stories of life and what is new, but it’s the same discussion about how some people might think it is funny to do on Christmas eve. Last year we saw more people –families- at the casino then ever before…our secret of a casino all to our family was out!! Other people were now seeing that something you can enjoy with your family any time of the year can also be fun with your family at special times in the year.

There has been many times where my father and I have sat in an almost empty casino floor at a roulette table – just he and I. We laugh about our numbers coming in; I cheer him on and he cheers me on. Unlike a normal table where you clap for the other players out of fun and sometimes for show – we clap out of real joy. I love seeing my grandparents face when they win just five dollars. I can usually find my mom by listening for the shrieks and screams of excitement…she loves the bonus rounds on the nickel slots. This to me is fun and fun with family.

This year things are different. Two days ago my grandfather fell in the store while shopping with my dad for last minute gag stocking stuffers (another family tradition). He used a shopping cart to help him get out of the store because he could not support his own weight on his own. Later at the emergency room they found that he had broken his knee and they believed he would need surgery. Yesterday the orthopedic doctor said for sure he will need surgery, but rather then fly home to Florida they will pin his knee next week on Tuesday. Today he is using a walker to get from a recliner chair to bathroom or to the table when it’s time to eat.

I have never seen my grandfather (now in his upper eighties) ever need assistance from anyone. This is the same guy that was excited when I would come visit him in Florida because he “finally had someone to ride the roller coasters with!” I remember one year when he was so excited for me to visit because Bush Gardens had been running promotions for the park showing the new ride the “Koomba!” He was ecstatic to finally get a chance to ride one of the new famed “best in the US” roller coasters.

Yesterday and today there was one thing my grandfather was upset about: the family not going to the casino. He wanted us to leave him at home and go without him. None of us cared. This tradition we had been keeping up for years really didn’t matter because we all know we can do the same thing here at home. Tonight we had dinner together, just as we usually do on Christmas eve. I wrapped the presents my grandfather could not wrap. He and I talked for hours about his life growing up in the armed service and working for Ford. Most of the stories I have heard more times then I recall, some of them I know better then him…but I listen anyway as history is sometimes best told by the person that experienced it; this was his history and his story to tell.

Tonight we’ll play cards or watch a movie. We’ll still laugh and still remember it as a good night – hell we will probably laugh at it next year. I’ll still tease my grandfather that he fell on purpose just so he could get everyone else to wrap his presents and help him into the bathroom.

In the end, today would still be about family and fun and that’s what it should be about.

Happy Holidays to everyone…may your time be spent with family and friends be fun times.

– bd

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