I don’t remember how old I was exactly or many years it lasted, but it’s a very sweet memory I hold on to dearly.
My mother’s brother and his wife lived in the small village that I was born in. When the heath would start to kick in we would go there to have barbecues on the weekend; when autumn would strike we would go there to pick up chestnuts and walnuts. It was a bit of a long drive, so we made the most of our time there. My uncle would always get very excited that we were there, and would often insist that we stayed for dinner.
I don’t know exactly who taught of it first, but I remember one day my mother asking me if I would mind spending Christmas at my uncle’s home. I was more than pleased with the idea, my uncle and his wife were always so sweet to me, there was no way the night was gonna be anything but fun. And I was right. It was such a success that we ended up spending a few more Christmas’s with them.
Although they had two sons, both of them were married and lived abroad, so it was just the 5 of us. We would get there in the middle of the afternoon, my mum baked the majority of the desserts at home and when we got there all that was left to do was to cook dinner. Their house was very cold, in the middle of the field, left defenseless from the winds and rains of December, the fireplace had to start burning in the morning so that we could have a warm night. We would have dinner and then right after dive into the games. My father and uncle used to tease each other while I tried my best to learn how to cheat in cards.
Way to often, Christmas night will only last until presents are exchanged, and then everyone just kind of wonders off or falls asleep. They didn’t had a lot, so there was no presents to exchange, which actually lift off the pressure. We stayed up until late in the evening playing games and just laughing hopelessly at the cheating attempts.
We would often play cards, but on one occasion my uncle brought up his draughts board. I had never played before, but got the gist of it very quickly. I remember him telling me that I could keep it, it was mine to have. I looked over my mum to see if I should accept it. You see, as I said before, they didn’t have much, and little me knew that you can’t take things from people who have less than you do. I had my cards, my board games, I was all set; although I liked the game, I couldn’t take it. It was something of his, something that once belonged to someone he treasured dearly. And I knew how attached he was to things that once belonged to someone he loved.
– But what if someone else comes, you might wanna play with them.
– It’s yours Nina, you like it so it’s yours.
– I’ll play when I come here, I’ll play with you. It’s fine, I don’t have to have it.
– Nina, I want you to have it. It’s still in the family and I know you’ll take good care of it.
He told my mother to let me accept it and I eventually did. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a Christmas gift so much. It might just be the most cherished draughts board in the world.
He passed away a few years later one month before Christmas Day. That board is all I have left of him.