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By Staff | Jan 4, 2013

We made our 385-mile trip (that’s each way) to my sister’s home in Illinois for a family Christmas gathering last weekend.

We have been doing this for several years and everyone looks forward to it for many reasons, mainly because it is a lot of fun.

We have several events that have become routine and the weekend is not complete without them.

This past weekend had something new because Saturday evening, ahead of the family meal, I was playing checkers with Gavin, 5, who became my grandson when my son married his mother a year and half ago.

Gavin is a sweet kid, full of energy and good at expressing himself. When he visits our home, he makes frequent trips to the freezer looking for the sherbet pushups, which means we keep a supply on hand just for those visits by Gavin.

He loves games, not the electronic ones as much as board and card games.

So Gavin’s older brothers were playing checkers and he found an extra board with checkers and said he wanted to play me. That sounded like a good idea.

Gavin knew the basic rules of the game, but, the 5-year-old paid no attention to details, such as playing with12 red checkers and eight black ones.

We did alternate playing the colors so I had the red every other time when he had the black.

We probably played seven or eight games that evening and with each game, Gavin would add another rule. I noticed that the rules he made applied to me, but not to him.

One of the first rules Gavin made was that if I took too long in deciding my next move, he could move my checker for me. Too long was decided by Gavin and was usually if I paused for about one second, he advanced my checker saying, “You were taking too long.”

One of the later Gavin-imposed rules was that I could only move my checkers in a straight line. That really made it difficult to have any strategy. But rules are rules and must be followed, even if they only applied to one side (me).

The checker board was black and brown squares in place of the traditional red and black ones and towards the end of our playing, Gavin decided his checkers would be on one color and mine would be on the other color. That made for another difficulty, but only for me.

Gavin would move his checkers at will, moving them forward, back and side-ways.

Towards the end of the evening’s games, I would advance my checker one square and Gavin would move his two and three squares, jumping my checkers at every opportunity.

We quit when it was time to eat and we were asked who won our games. As far as I could tell, Gavin won every one of them, but Gavin insisted I won one game. I wonder which one it was.

His brothers said that when you play by Gavin’s rules, Gavin wins, which is probably the main Gavin rule.

Oh, rules, schmules.

What I remember is that Gavin and I, with over 60 years between us, played several games of checkers Saturday evening and when we finished, we both knew we had fun.

It was part of our family Christmas celebration and I am ready to do it next year. It can be another tradition and we will play by Gavin’s rules.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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