Friday, December 23, 2011

A Mother's Merriment

A Mother’s Merriment

The Man-of-the-House took the Lady-of-the-House shopping. He drove the back way through the farms. A field of winterberries caught their eye.

They are bundled and sold on the roadside. Rose hips are sold further up the road. 

A handsome old brick house is always admired by the Man-of-the-House along the back way. 

On the other side of the road is a farmhouse. The hens are like those that the Lady-of-House once kept and doted over.

A large flock of Canadian Geese rest from their flight. The workhorses are at rest, too.

A brief stop at a yarn store and the Lady-of-the-House spied a rug hooking kit. At home it hung on a doorknob. Each time she passed it anticipation arose within her.

Some weeks later she noticed the little check marks running down her to-do list resembled a column of prim smiles. She took some moments to sit back and enjoy the fruit of her labor; the greenery and berries arrayed, the cookies baked, the gifts wrapped. Now only the supper needed roasting to perfection. What would give her the sweetest satisfaction would be to see the happy smiles on the faces of her family. If some trifling tid-bit managed to be overlooked because it was left off the list, never mind. 

One thing that had no chance of being overlooked was that of playing charades. It is the Lady-of-the-House herself who is the one who (it might be said) most anticipates playing charades at the holidays - a time for mirth and merriment. She is naturally soft-spoken, sometimes given to melancholy, quietly jovial and seldom silly but when playing charades she has a little sparkle of fun in her eyes.

Have you been “all work and no play?” It is easy to see how this can come to be the state of things at this busy time of year. Please consider some Mother’s Merriment.  ‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Charades - an old fashioned “drawing-room amusement” - is the kind of recreation that amuses much but costs little. It calls forth creative imagination and the wearing of a genuine thinking cap – party hat.  Charades puts the biggest smiles of the year upon the faces of those who play. It gives the adult children of the Lady-of-the-House and her husband delight to see Mother so merry. 

Mentioned in literature we know that charades have been around for a couple of centuries. Adults once played charades in corseted holiday attire. Riddles were formidable and demanded a sort of Oscar-Wilde-wit. Today we are more relaxed.

Over the years the game has become simplified. Costumes and scripts to rehearse have been replaced by shorter and shorter riddles for guessing. And yet, it is still a game that amuses successfully. Are you interested in how to play charades? Read on. Otherwise, freely scroll to the closing remarks.

How to Play Charades
Charades is played by a performer who uses mime. Without uttering a word he coaches the audience in guessing a phrase. A title of a book or film is most popular. To start the game with easy phrases or to include younger players the host or hostess can write phrases on scraps of paper. Folded papers with the recent films viewed or of favorite books read, are placed in a winter hat for picking.

If the phrase is a book the presenter’s hands are pressed together with open palms as if holding an open book. If the phrase is a film an old movie camera is held up to the eye and cranked with one hand.

One finger is held up to represent the “First Word” in the phrase. A guesser in the audience can speak out, “First Word.”  For syllables one finger is placed on the forearm – “One Syllable” - two fingers for two syllables, three for three, etc. The syllable or whole word is acted out with gestures or pantomime. Further clues can also be given. With the performer's hand cupped to an ear a guesser will announce, “Sounds Like.” If the guessing comes close the performer waves the guessers on. If they guess correctly he nods or touches his nose when they hit it “on the nose.” If they are far from the mark he puts on a frown and shakes his head “no.” He may wave his hands frantically as if to erase his gestures from the air around him to start again – perhaps with “Second Word.” To indicate a connecting word such as “it, and, the, to,” he puts his thumb and forefinger together to show “Little Word.” If a word needs to be lengthened a he can make a gesture as if stretching a large rubber band.

She opens her palms. Someone calls out, "A book."
She nods yes.
She also cranks her camera.  “A film.”
She nods yes to this, too.
Two fingers up. “Two words.”
One finger up, next. “First word.”
One finger on a forearm. “One syllable.”

With that out of the way she covers her eyes with both hands. “Blind.”
She shakes her head no. 
Yes, she nods enthusiastically.
Two fingers up. “Second word.”
She gestures at brushing her hair with long strokes and then putting on lipstick. Then she gallops across the room with her hands holding a horse’s reigns. “Beauty,” is called out with a giggle. “Black Beauty” is the guess a second later. A wave a laughter follows.  
“Who goes next?”

Some players like to form two teams, use a timer and keep score. But none of these are necessary.

Charades, a game that is in danger of being lost to antiquity, can be rediscovered by a new generation. When family and friends experience how fun it is to play, it is more likely to become a tradition.

To Close
“With most of my to-do list checked  I’ll open my kit again. But this time I’ll relax long enough to read the directions. When I have a little more time I’ll begin. It’s always thrilling to start a new project,” the Lady-of-the-House thought to herself. The project is a chair pad by Yankee Peddler.

The tiny mittens (above) are those she knit with fingering weight yarn. A frugal friend felted the tiny sheep onto pipe cleaners.

In Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “The First Christmas Carol” (text Luke 11:14) he quotes Isaac Watts.

“Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less.”

Charles Spurgeon goes on to say that, “It is designed to do away with some of our pleasures, but it gives us many more, to make up for what it takes away; so it does not make them less.”

Happy New Year
Karen Andreola


  1. Well, dear lady of the house, it is good that you can relax in your stitches now. Mustn't rush those stitches.
    I go around here collecting rosehips all during November... with gloves on, of course.
    I remember well, our games of childhoods past,charades, that was fun! You have inspired me to add it to the festivities here.
    Have a lovely Christmas.

  2. Dear Karen,

    What a lovely post!! I look forward to seeing your completed chair pad.

    I LOVE your mitten and sheep tree, it is so very cute!!

    I hope that you and your family have a very merry christmas and a very blessed new year!!

    Love, Heather

  3. Lovely photos of the countryside!
    I look forward to relaxing a bit this weekend after all the hustle and bustle to get everything ready for Christmas!
    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!


  4. How wonderful...all those rose hips :) Enjoy your kit. It is a great deal of fun to start a new project in the beginning of the new year.

    Merry Christmas Karen!


  5. What a wonderful quote there at the end of your post. I've never heard that before but I agree completely.

    I have yet to understand this trend in our area (even among homeschooled kids) that when they get together, they almost always watch a movie.

    They will go out for coffee and talk but in each other's homes they all get together and stay glued to a TV screen.

    Your new project looks like it will be beautiful. I'm determined to learn to knit this year. :)

    Merry Christmas!

  6. Lovely post full of little gems! :) Those mittens are just PRECIOUS!!! Great reminder about charades!

  7. Have a lovely Christmas.

    I am sure that you are enjoying the season with those darling grandsons!

    We mothers do tend to get bogged down with all the 'to-do' lists at this time of year.

    We are celebrating Tim's birthday today...

    Have a lovely Christmas, Karen!


  8. Thank you for sharing, I'm taking a moment to relax while baking is in the oven! I love your version of Charades, we usually use one word cards, as the children get older I would like to try books and movies too! I'm looking forward to your hooked chair cover, I'm sure it will be beautiful.
    Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas,

  9. My family enjoys charades too! Such funny fun. :o)

    PS I asked for your CD for Christmas and it arrived in the mail today--I can't wait to listen to it.

  10. That would have been a drive I would love to have been on. I love all the photos of the country. This is a splendid post all around.

  11. ...I think we shall play charades tommorow!

    I'm smitten by your photos of your drive to shopping.

    I almost felt as though I was there...

    Lovely post.
    as always:)

  12. What a lovely area you live in -- thanks for taking us along on your drive. : Happy stitching! ~Lisa :)

  13. Hi Karen,
    I hope your Christmas was just the way you like it! I have a new project as well. My husband gave me a dollhouse for Christmas. It is in kit form, so I am punching out, staining, painting, and fitting together. I'm working on the staircase now. SO much fun!


  14. We enjoy charades as well. Wishing you a joyful New Year.

  15. We have these merry and bright bushes that have been planted by a new city road. Every time my husband and I go by we sigh with their beauty, a pop in the winter. I would call them winterberries, good to know that is, in fact, what they are called.

    I sent you a comment stating I left a comment on my blog regarding the crochet edging. You might not have received it because I was preparing supper in the process upon whence my husband came home and starting talking to me, I might have failed to push the right buttons or give the correct code. Anyway, let me know...

    You have such wonderfully long and active posts with a broad range of sundries (as you call them).
    Blessings today.