Fiction Holiday

   The discussion in August set the stage. “I know we have to get tickets if we’re coming for Thanksgiving,” Sophie said. She paused and drew a soundless breath. “I just don’t think it is going to happen. Andrew can’t quarantine with his work and Mother will let no one else into the house.”

    “Well, let us know.” Richard was calm as he continued. “We thought you both would like to see Rose after her first semester at college.”

    “I would. It has been exciting to hear some of her tales even though I know life on campus has been restricted.” Sophie signed off with the assurance she would touch base with Andrew again. As she stared at the cell phone screen, she sighed. Andrew was in no position to quarantine and the southern branch of the family was not treating the virus with the seriousness of the northern siblings.

    As expected, Andrew was adamant. No travel for the holiday. The family would stay the course with masks, sanitizer and staying home.


    As the family enjoyed some holidays together, the brothers focused on gathering at Thanksgiving. A celebration based around food and thanks, without all of the challenges of gift giving and religious overtones. It allowed the sisters-in-laws to then plan and celebrate with their families with no stress.

    One of the traditions which emerged as the nieces and nephews grew older were the games; card games, board games, and puzzles.

    The annual Monopoly tournament was the highlight with a final all in event which bestowed bragging rights for the year to the winner. Rose, the now college freshman, was the current champion.

Text messages:

Rose to Andrew: Too bad, no game. = #7 win.

Andrew to Rose: I am happy to accept UR forfeit. No play, no claim.

Rose to Andrew: Wrong. UR not here, U forfeit. Too chkn to play me now?

Andrew to Rose: No

Rose to Andrew: My sibling support- much stronger than U.

Andrew to Rose: Set it up.

    So, the calls and texts traveled back and forth to double check on the games, the online video connections and time of the challenge event since it could not conflict with the Detroit Lions football game.

    During the pre-event check, Rose and her siblings Paul and Ann met with Andrew and Sophie to trial the game and to work out the extra rules for playing in different locations.

    “With two different people acting as banker, we are going to need to make sure the cheating is limited,” Andrew said. He was adjusting the screen angle on Sophie’s laptop as we played a practice round to experiment. The background babble of voices a distraction as they attempted to refine the screen view.

    “What cheating?” Paul said. “We haven’t taken money from the bank in years.” A high school freshman, he began to develop some reckless traits when playing in the last few years. In the beginning, he and his sisters were extremely conservative except when ‘borrowing’ money from the bank. Until Uncle Andrew showed them how to go for broke. With the wheeling and dealing attitude, his style of play finally showed them some options which horrified their parents.


    Friday dawned in its bloated post-turkey dinner magnificence. Everyone was late out of the blocks to start the day. Text messages flew between phones to re-focus the group on the planned afternoon event.

    Five bodies were positioned around the board in North Carolina while three masked bandits sat at the table in Maine.

    “What the heck?” Paul said as he watched the preparations in Maine. “I thought we were good.” His plate with remnants of pie a la mode clattered to the tabletop. His sisters peered into the screen from their positions

    “I’m sorry,” Ruth said. She was Andrew’s girlfriend and had participated in the game the previous year. “I worked yesterday at the hospital and got a call this morning that one of the patient’s tested positive. I was wearing PPE and the office doesn’t think I must quarantine. This is just a precaution.” She waved her hand at her mask covered face.

    “Really, Paul, you should be wearing the mask, so your sisters don’t have to look at your mug,” Andrew said.

    “I don’t know,” Paul replied. “I think it looks pretty good on you.”

    “Keep it up,” Andrew said. “See if I offer you any deals.”

    “Your deals always come with strings, Uncle Andrew.” Paul laughed, “I’m not looking for any favors.”

    “OK, OK, let’s keep it civil.” Paul’s mother spoke and stepped into view as she pulled a chair out from the table. “Are we going to be able to make this work?”

    Rose and Sophie each spoke from their respective states. “We’re going to try.” And the group laughed.

    “First let’s roll for order. We’ve already decided that which ever place gets high number will be the start. And everyone there will go before the other location.” Rose laid out the rules and accommodations since everyone was now present. “Running two banks and all of the pieces on both boards is going to be work but it is the only way we could think of to see the whole game.”

    With that and some good-natured grumbling, the Monopoly 2020 Pandemic Event was off. There were still IOUs negotiated with free landings. Rose and her siblings were able to gang up to prevent going bankrupt to an enemy and the rate of play would make a snail look like a sprinter.

    In the end though there was joy and laughter. In a world of change, stress and upheaval, the family was united in their mission. The final two rounds showed the perversity of decisions and negotiations. Rose and her sister ended up banding together while Sophie went bankrupt to Paul.

    Andrew reviewed the cards arrayed around the board representing the holdings of the North Carolina participants. He was the last standing adult and only two turns ago he was sitting on hotels and cash. Tons of cash. Now he was almost broke. He checked to see if there was anything worth mortgaging to meet the bill.

    A tinny giggle echoed through the speaker of the laptop. “I’ve got you, Uncle Andrew.” Paul was up and dancing around the end of the distant table, ignoring the glare from above the mask so many miles away. “How much does that get me?”

    “Don’t get cocky. You haven’t won yet.” Andrew slumped in his seat as he counted and reported his meager total. On screen, Paul moved the property cards over to his side of the board.

    Rose looked over her empire as she shook the dice in her hand. “That’s right, little brother. I have won this for the last six years and I am not about to let you break my streak.” She looked at the board and aimed for the least costly option. “I need a five, come on five,” she said as she released the two plastic cubes onto the center of the board.   

November 28, 2020 02:27

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