Every family has great holiday traditions. One of my family’s seems to have faded out of existence, thanks to a bit of over-aggression. I miss it greatly, and I think I may do a petition to get it back.


Spoons is an awesome card game. If you haven’t played it, you should. It is a great holiday gathering game, because it works best with more people (ideally maybe 8 or so).
Here’s the overview for those who have never played:

Somewhat akin to musical chairs, you put out one less spoon than players in a circle on the table, and everyone sits around the table, ideally as evenly spaced from the spoons as possible.

Everyone starts with four cards. One person is the dealer, and they pick up a card and pass a card (either the new one or one from their hand) to the next person as quickly as possible. That person looks at the card and passes one to the next person, and so on and so on.

The idea is to get four of a kind in your hand. When you do, you take a spoon (quietly, if you want to make it more interesting). As soon as one person has four of a kind and takes a spoon, it’s fair game for everyone else to grab a spoon. One person doesn’t get one, and so they get a “letter”, starting with S. When you miss enough that you spell S-P-O-O-N-S, you’re out. You play as many rounds as it takes for there to be a winner, swapping up the dealer each game.

It’s a lovely game. I miss it so.

So what happened, you ask?

It is a precious family holiday memory.

The year was 2000. Thanksgiving. I was 18. Chris and I were engaged, and JC and Lindsay were dating.

We had everyone over for dinner, including Chris, Lindsay, Lindsay’s parents, and my sweet, innocent, tweety-bird-owning-look-alike Grandmother, Mammaw (of whom I have included a picture to illustrate her sweetness and tweety-bird-owner-identicalness).

Mom prepared a feast for all, of course. It was a wonderful family gathering. A chance for the new-coming members of the family to really delve into the family and become a part. A chance to make good impressions.

After dinner, we cleared off the dining room table and began a game of spoons.

Now, you play with spoons because it can be a brutal game. “Forks” would be dangerous, as would a hearty game of “Knives”. But spoons? Pretty harmless.

However, we are ALL a pretty darn competitive bunch.

It had already been a spicy game before “it” happened. I had even already given Mom a “spoon cut” on her hand (yes, that is possible).

Then, during one of the later hands of the game, everyone had gotten a spoon but Chris and Mammaw, who were sitting on opposite sides of the table from each other. They dove for it at the same time.

Both splayed out onto the table, Chris grabbed the spoon end, and Mammaw the stem end. They started tugging. And jerking. And going back and forth. The whole table was rocking and sqeaking. They began trash talking each other. Dad began to get irate and told them to calm down.

Then there was a crack. The leg broke on the dining room table that my Dad had lovingly handcrafted with gorgeous woodworking skills in the early years of their marriage.

As I was writing this post last night, I asked Chris, and he and I both actually don’t remember who actually ended up with the spoon. But I do specifically remember three things:

  1. Dad becoming very irate and threatening to “ban” spoons.
  2. Chris running out of the room and burying his head in shame in getting into a fight with my sweet Mammaw.
  3. Chris telling us all later that he realized halfway through the fight that there was no good outcome for him. He either had to go down in history as the guy that beat up his fiance’s sweet grandmother for a spoon, or as the guy who GOT BEAT by his fiance’s sweet grandmother for a spoon.

Dad DID fix the table, Chris DID still get to marry me, and we actually DID finish the game of Spoons (on the floor in the living room). I won – I do remember that. We are, after all, a competitive bunch.

9 thoughts on “Have a Spoon of Holiday Tradition.

  1. I also remember Chris and Mamaw almost to the floor in their struggle. Yes they have gone down in the family story telling history :) Mom

  2. I've never heard of that game, but it sounds like a lot of fun. And I can just picture the fight between your husband & Mammaw! lol

  3. Wow! You have the most interesting stories! I’ve playing Spoons — once. I played with Lauren McKerley (among others at the Women’s Retreat). Let’s just say she would fit right in with your family.

  4. Thanks for the laugh! I too am very competitive. My last experience with spoons was when I was going through sorority recruitment. (The college I went to was small and most women live in sororities. They are MUCH different than the sororities in the South, but I digress…). We were all wearing dresses and sitting ladylike on the carpet playing spoons, which I had never played before. We played where if you didn’t get a spoon you were out, so each round had fewer players. Now remember, you are trying to impress all of the sorority members and hope they invite you to join their house. It came down to me and one other girl. We both grabbed the spoon at the same time and had a similar wrestle to Chris and your Grandmother. Neither one of us was going to let go. I finally grabbed with all of my might and drug her across the floor. In fact, she ended up with rug burns. I was so excited I won (I think she let go out of shear shock), then I was a nervous wreck until the party invitations came. This was the house I desperately wanted to be in. Luckily it all worked out in the end, we both got the house we wanted, we ended up best friends and were in each others weddings. Who knows, the next time we see each other maybe we’ll pull out the spoons and teach our kids to play!

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