My 2011 Thanksgiving Day thoughts are like most people, thinking of the million things I am most thankful for. Today, however, I would like to highlight my Daddy and a tradition he taught my brother and I, that I am most thankful for. Actually, I need to go back to my Dad’s mom, who taught my Dad, who then taught my brother and I. You could find Granny, a feisty little ol’ social gambler, in her game room every week playing mahjong with the regular women who came to gamble, gossip and er, have a few, you know, granny cocktails. Every week, Granny would sternly warn my brother and I NOT to disturb her while she was hosting her friends at the gambler’s table. I’m not sure when my brother and I decided to cross ol’ Granny’s warnings but once our foot stepped into the room the first time, we realized Granny was only blowing hot air with her warnings. You see, my brother and I got hit with so much LOVE and praises from my Granny and all the other women present. Every week we heard the same, “Aww, so cute your grandchildren,” in various versions from each well-dressed, prim and proper woman in the room. But the climax of the visit came when my brother, (because we both realized unconsciously, he was my Granny’s favorite) he would ask very sweetly, “Granny, can we have some candy?” Yaaahooo!!! Granny kept a candy jar filled with lots of delicious treats in this game room and,of course, she had to keep the show up in front of her friends, so life, every week at that moment was as sweet as hitting the Jackpot at the local casino! My brother and I always made sure we dressed for the occasion, wearing shirt and pants with lots of big pockets and fill them up we did. Waddling out with our prized stash, Granny could be heard bragging about her grandchildren and the clinking of the mahjong tiles was once again set in motion.
No one can remember who exactly thought up the game but
Confusion Confucius, the deep thinking Chinese philosopher waaaay back in 500 BC, is often credited for the invention. He sounds more important than the Taiping Rebellion Chinese army officers or a Shanghai nobody nobleman sometime between 1870-1875 or the two Nincompoop Ningpo brothers in 1850. Let’s just go with Confucius….sounds like a regal discoverer-er-er and since he loved birds, the origin of the word Mahjong means sparrow! Wait, here’s another reason Confucius is the man. To play the game one would start with “a set of 136 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols, although some regional variations use a different number of tiles.” If you studied on Confucius teachings (don’t look at me honey!) he taught (just guessing) on three cardinal virtues benevolence, sincerity and filial property that link to the three cardinal virtue tiles known as the Red (benevolence) , Green (prosperity/ sincerity), and White (filial property.) So, case closed, Confucius is the winner.
Fast forward three million years and you see my dad busting out the mahjong set and me (#1 and only favorite daughter), my bro (now #2 only son and toppled from his favorite #1 limelight since Granny decided to take her gamblin’ ways and women friends to the mansion in the sky) and my mom, learning the game mahjong, à la Dad’s version. I say this because he either tried to teach us the authentic version or perhaps my small feeble mind couldn’t wrap itself around ALL the rules and regulation especially with the gambling aspect of it, that I discovered after borrowing a “How to Play Mahjong” book from the library, only a few things looked remotely like how I played the game. I closed the book up and decided at this point in my life, it didn’t matter much. The basic skills of mahjong is similar to the card game rummy and I taught all my children à la Dad’s and what I remember version and we (mostly my daughters) continue to play the 136 tile game, usually at a family get together. Yesterday our family celebrated Thanksgiving and as my children are older they invited their friends into our family.
Right after dinner my oldest daughter brought out our mahjong set and the tradition was being kept alive as she taught not only her new boyfriend but two other couples the very old “game of skill, strategy and calculation and involves a certain degree of chance” known as mahjong.
My dad has gone to be with his feisty ol’ Mama, (and yes, for sure they are setting up the mahjong walls and playing up a storm up there!) and I am thankful he took a part of his life to play the ancient game mahjong with his family and that legacy continues to live through my children and I, as he joins us spiritually at every mahjong game we play.
Does your family play parlor games passed on from earlier generations? Oh, please share with us the fun!
Thank you Daddy….and my gamblin’ Granny!
Thank you WordPress and all the blog friends I have met since the birth of Simply Charming… because of YOU, life has gone from ho-hum to super exciting! Who needs Facebook when you have a friend like WordPress! 🙂
Photo and Quote Credits: Flickr and Wikipedia
Inspiration: My Daddy and gamblin’ Granny!