The Classic Card Game That's Gotten My Family Through Storms, Vacations, and Hard Times
Despite being brought up with the best of Southern etiquette teachings, my grandmother has never been too good to break out a deck of cards at the lunch table. It was her effort to stave off anarchy from her huge gaggle of young, hungry grandkids. Now that we're fully grown, we're able to hold ourselves together—well, for the most part—but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to start acting up if it meant she'd start digging through her purse for the card game that I know is always buried deep down at the bottom right next to her tube of Revlon lipstick in "Orange Flip," just waiting until the necessity arises.
The irony isn't lost on me that the card game that became my family's saving grace was none other than Old Maid. Growing up, you'd be able to spot our group at our favorite beachside lunch spot in a second, because we'd be erupting in laughter whenever someone got stuck with the "old hag" of the deck. I could've sworn I even saw a few tears welling up in my boy cousins' eyes whenever they were left with the granny card, well past the acceptable age to cry over a card game. But they'd never admit it. My grandmother never failed to remind us every chance she got that she was no "old maid," and that the joking term was not to exist outside our bubble.
That's not the only time Old Maid made an appearance. Whenever there was bad weather or rainy days, she was ready to help us pass the time without getting too stir-crazy. On family vacations when we'd all been cooped up together for perhaps a day too long, she was there to relieve tension and provide a welcome dose of comic relief. Road trips were made less boredom-riddled. And, in the case that the family was dealing with something too serious for children to quite understand, she was there to offer comfort and distraction in a time of unease.
My grandmother knew that as long as she had Old Maid up her sleeve, things were going to be just fine and her kiddos kept happy. Even as years passed and the world became centered around smartphones and video games, we would still gather around the dining table after dinner to play a few rounds. Like an informal family meeting, but one meant just for fun. And still, I know if I looked down deep into the bottom of her purse right this minute, odds are there's a tattered deck of Old Maid cards there, waiting. It's become a cherished tradition I'm excited to pass down on my own one day.
So if you're looking for a new family pastime to bring joy and entertainment for years to come and in so many different scenarios, shop Old Maid for yourself below, plus a few more of our classic go-to games.
Old Maid Playing Cards
While the version my family uses is certainly no longer in circulation, this illustrated set will get the job done.
BUY IT: $10; walmart.com
Uno Family Card Game Tin
This travel-friendly tin is just what you need to kick off any family trip. Uno is always a crowd-favorite.
BUY IT: $9.99; amazon.com
Not into cards? Dominoes is another game that always gets the fun going. Start with a small set and move your way up.
BUY IT: $9.99; amazon.com