On Epiphany Sunday of the first year of my marriage my eyes were opened to a few things. The first was that my wife (and thus the both of us) would be celebrating the Epiphany as a tradition and with slightly more pomp than I was used to. In fact, in my family, we never observed the Feast of the Three Kings as anything more than a solemn feast day in the Church. My wife and I, however, would be carrying on the tradition she grew up with of exchanging at least a small gift. The second was that we would indeed be creating our own traditions to share as a young family.
Epiphany that year fell just shy of our six month anniversary. My wife was just shy of six months pregnant with our son. He’s what one could call a “honeymoon baby”. As she headed out that Sunday afternoon on her way to an out-of-town, three day business trip she handed me a card. The note read: “On Friday, pack your bag. We’re taking a surprise trip.” She kept her word and that following weekend was spent at a Bed & Breakfast in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country. It was a lot of fun; and thus the tradition of a weekend, half-anniversary getaway began.
In subsequent years we would visit Charlottesville, VA, home of Monticello; Baltimore; even a weekend in Austin touring the capitol and eating BBQ. We moved from New Jersey to Virginia to Texas and we never thought to exclude our children from the fun.
But something happened in the past few years and the tradition, in its infancy, fell apart. I mentioned it to my wife before Christmas. To my surprise she gave me a card on this year’s Epiphany that read: “Pack your bag, we’re taking the trip.” The only problem was that we couldn’t decided where to go. Texas is a big place with much open space between the large cities. We’ve already seen about all there is to see here. We’ve got to think of something…
Late last week my wife texted me something very funny. She was testing something out on Priceline and entered a ridiculously low figure for a higher-end hotel in the DFW area. Unexpectedly, the bid was accepted.
“Looks like we’re spending a night in Frisco!” she said.
Frisco is home to Dallas’ more recently affluent exurbs. There’s not much in Frisco except a large (lovely) shopping mall, plentiful shops, shops galore, an abundance of shopping, and an Ikea. And one would only have to shell out $57 in tolls to get there. Oh, and Sunday’s are no-shopping days for us on principle.
This afternoon we arrived at our hotel. Our kids thought the whole idea was lots of fun. We didn’t really have a plan other than to take the kids to the nearby Dave and Buster’s for lunch and some games and then head back to the hotel for the evening — watch TV and play some games. We brought some wine for when the kittens pass out.
While puttering around the hotel suite this evening my daughter asked if we could play Clue! You remember how they got this board game-gem for Christmas. But did you know how frustrating it can be to play a detective-y murder-themed deductive reasoning board game with a 6 and 7 year-old?
My daughter lucked out and got an extra card. That happens with four players. Already she was up on the rest of us. Still, it came as somewhat of a shock when she boldly announced in the middle of the second round: “Um, I want to make an accusation… It was Mrs. White with the rope in the beach house.” We warned her that if she was wrong she’d be out of the game but she was so sure of herself. She slid the cards out of the envelope and carefully looked at the first two. Her eyes grew wide. Then they sank and almost appeared full of rage when she saw the third card.
“You missed one, didn’t you, sweetheart?” her mother asked. “Sorry, honey, but you have to sit there without playing until one of us wins.”
She got downright hostile and beligerant.
Just before she threw her cards down and stamped away into the bathroom (the only other enclosed room in this place) she bellowed: “But why can’t I be right with only two things? Like, why can’t I just say ‘I have the right weapon and room but not the person?!”
“Sugarplum,” I replied calmly, “Didn’t you watch Making a Murderer with Daddy? We can’t just pin this on whomever we want. We are not the Manitowoc Police.”
She gets crazy eyes when she doesn’t win…
Casting aside that drama my wife took her turn. Failing to make an accusation, play passed to my son. Last week we all watched a movie on the life of Philipe Petite, the French wire-walker who walked a high wire between the Twin Towers in the early 1970’s. Son fell in love with the movie and now claims to want to be a wire-walker. What you may not know about Petite, who is a madman and genius at the same time, is that he was also a street performer in Paris before taking to the ropes. There’s a scene in the movie where he drew a large chalk circle on the sidewalk and pantomimed for crowds. I don’t care much for pantomime. There’s not even much to get about it. You do a bunch of crap and don’t speak.
You know who found this schtick fascinating?
If you said my son, give yourself a gold star.
And do you know when he decided to be a mime?
If you said it was during this particular round of Clue!, then give yourself another star.
“Son, roll the dice,” I said.
He shrugged his shoulders.
It only took us three minutes to divine that he wanted one of us to pass the dice to him. His sister had left them across the table when she stormed off after we told her that Miss Scarlet might actually be the murderer despite her dress being “pretty”.
He even found a way to correct me (in mime) about the correct singular form of dice. How do you mime “smart ass”?
Play continued for another round. At one point, son resorted to a notebook to sketch out his moves for us. This was getting painful. He would point to murder weapons and rooms and players so that I could move them. Eventually I asked outright. “Why don’t I just play your turns for you?”
In the end, he was victorious. He identified the murderer, murder scene, and weapon. That dastardly Col. Mustard. I spent a good few minutes wondering how my son could find the will power to be this quiet when he normally speaks at a dull roar.
Look who won!
And all four of us returned to a tradition of fun, joy, and bizarre times at a hotel in Frisco.
Happy eight and a half years, sweetheart. Thanks for these two nutjobs that make life so much better.