While I would not have chosen Miami as the place to spend the last few days of 2007, I’m grateful that I joined my family here for this vacation. Not only did I get to spend some quality time with my Dad, walking on the beach together or just relaxing with the rest of the family, but I also got to play with my nieces nephews and one of my sisters and one of my brothers, the only ones who made it down for the holiday.
And I got to have fun with my step-sister and step-brother better while bonding with his kids.
I have to note the irony in passing the gay section of the beach while walking with my father. What in other company might have been a major distraction was, in this case, only a minor diversion, some nice ice candy, but of little sustenance compared to conversation with my Dad.
And I delighted in playing the “state quarter” game with my nieces and nephews. You see, sometime in 2000 or 2001, I decided to start collecting the state quarters for my nieces and nephews (who now number 15). At the bank, I’ve buying a roll each time the mint released the latest coin. Well, I started pulling some of the older ones out of my change (as I hadn’t yet gotten those for the kids). Soon, I found myself saving any and all state quarters I got in change.
I started accumulating quite a number of these special coins. Now, I have drawers full of them.
So, instead of just giving the kids the latest quarters, I’d realized I needed to find a means to share them with the kids without actually giving them away. Now, before each family trip, I grab a handful, pulling them out when the kids are present, offering my various niblings* (nieces and nephews) a quarter if they can spell the state correctly.
Last night, seeing my baggie full of quarters, one of my nieces offered to spell a lot of states to help me get rid of them faster. And this young lady happens to be a most gifted speller, determined to learn how to spell each state she gets wrong. (Earlier in the evening, she had refused to spell certain states, telling me they were “too easy.”)
I think now maybe I should change the game and make them learn a fact or two about the state before they can win their two bits.
Oh. One more thing. For all the trouble I take to saving these coins, I learned that once my nieces and nephews win them, they’re eager to spend them.*
This way, some other devoted uncle can collect them and save them for his niblings.
*Well, at least they do keep those they put in the folders I gave them.