Welcome back to the retelling of some of my favorite Christmas memories. This one is about our family’s tradition of playing Scrabble after dinner on Christmas Day and my personal tradition to do so while drinking a mug full of Baileys Irish Cream.
My father has an impressive strategy, that being that he has memorized most two- and three-letter words and can “ba” and “ka” his way right to the top. Placement is everything. A triple letter on a K in two directions with the whole thing doubled. With points like that, who cares if it makes sense?
He gets especially giddy when people challenge whatever two-bit nonsense he lays on the board because while no one uses these words in ordinary conversation, he knows they’re in the dictionary. Sometimes, he’ll feel sorry for one of us and even say, “Don’t challenge ‘bo.’ It’s in there. It’s colloquial for hobo.” Naturally.
But we all called bullshit one year when he laid out “oakring,” which intersected at three different places on the board and made use of the triple word score.
“What’s ‘ra’?” I asked, looking at the two-letter job that connected the second half of the word.
“Never mind, ‘ra,’” spat my mother. “What’s an oakring?”
“What do mean, what’s an oakring?” my father yelled back. “It’s the damn ring on an oak tree.”
And everyone around the table did a lot of muttering until my brother decided to challenge. As a surprise to absolutely no one except my father, oakring was not listed in the dictionary.
“No, not in here,” my brother said. “We have oaken, oaklike and oaky. No oakring.”
As expected, my father handled this news well, which is to say that he demanded to see the dictionary for himself and proceeded to look up several words that he felt were similar.
“Treering isn’t in here!! Well it should be!!” he yelled. “Roadkill is. Why not treering? It’s the same thing. I don’t care what anyone says, oakring is a word!!”
Meanwhile, I picked his letters off the board one by one, sloshing my Bailey’s along the way. I laid out my own word (something both ordinary and believable) in the same spot. Eighty five points be mine. Nova for the win.
“Good for you,” my mother said. “Put that on Twtter. Twit Twit, I win.”
I did. And I’ll have you know, that is how I happen to remember all these stories.
Twitter for the win.