The long, dark, cold days of winter are upon us. It’s just getting light when I take Thistle for her morning constitutional and I can barely squeeze in a quick trot with her at the end of the workday.

It’s just dark.

And cold.

And we won’t even talk about how you can’t go anywhere these days.

Which got me to thinking about how we used to entertain ourselves when we were kids in the mountains of WV. Or, more specifically, how my grandmother entertained us.

There were no video games or endless cartoons. We got three, maybe four television channels and there wasn’t much on to appeal to kids. SO . . . we played games!

My favorites were Old Maid, Crazy Eights, I Spy, and Who’s Got the Button? These were simple games that required few props and engaged our imaginations. Even now I can picture the floral fabric of the sofa where we played cards and all the little knick knacks around the room that we would spy with our little eyes.

It was warm, it was fun, and it made me feel important when my grandmother took time to teach me games and play with me.

Grandma’s been gone for a while now. But maybe, on one of these cold, dark nights, we’ll round up a button or break out a deck of cards and play a game or two in her memory. Just to keep warm and bright . . .

HOW TO PLAY OLD MAID – This game is best with at least four players but five or six is even better! The dealer removes one queen from the deck then hands out the rest of the cards, one-by-one, to the players. Discard any pairs in your hand face down. If you have three of a kind, you can only discard two of the cards. The first player holds their cards to the person on their left (don’t show them!) and the second player chooses a card. If it makes a pair, discard them. Keep going around, each player offering the player to the left a card and discarding pairs until all that’s left is that one, unpaired queen. If it’s in your hand, you’re the old maid!