Saturday, January 3, 2009

Parental poker, the Christmas spirit and a big house

I work with nearly 100 children in a job where we, the caretakers, traditionally receive a few small preholiday gifts. I got none. But upon my return to work yesterday, I found a stylish mug with tea mix in my mailbox. I felt good. May the spirit last all year.

I stayed put this year for the holidays, and it was glorious. My family came to North Carolina for the first time. We kept most of our traditions. My sister and I saw a movie Christmas night. Instead of playing chess with Dad, I played poker with both parents. I think Dad gets it, but Mom did not. "I just want to see another card," she said while checking a flush. She likes having the best hand but doesn't care for winning chips. Strange.

I saw the Biltmore Estate with my girlfriend. It is big. The basement has a swimming pool and a bowling alley. My favorite room was a men's lounge with two billiard tables and two secret doors leading to other man rooms. The library looks like the one in "Beauty and the Beast." I thought about what the Vanderbilts and the Hermanns are missing in their homes: table tennis. I have tried to find a suitable used table on Craigslist. No luck yet.

My friend Daniel beat me out of a poker tournament this week. I made a stupid mistake in raising him all-in when I held a full house. He folded. I was too embarrassed to show him my hand. I really do play better when I don't drink. Why then do beer and poker go together like milk and cookies?

I started Obama's "The Audacity of Hope." He writes like a politician, but I am learning a lot. He wants to invest in education, scientific research and energy independence while pushing for a college football playoff. He is so timely!

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