The cognotte

The cognotte

The other day, it was November 1st, and obviously, as true Christmas enthusiasts, my son and I were planning the decorations for the tree and the fireplace, under the grumpy gaze of my sweetheart who once again imagines himself buried under boxes of garlands in the garage. As we were making our list, my son asked me what the most beautiful Christmas gift I had received when I was little was.

And I had a moment of absentmindedness. I wanted to give him a super cool answer, a gift, a toy that I had probably identified in the Sears or Consumer Distributing catalog. Catalogs that we eagerly awaited in November and in which we spent an eternity dreaming.

But I had a blank.

Despite all the expensive, big, electronic, and coveted gifts I received during every Christmas of my childhood, I couldn't remember the one that had left a lasting impression on me.

Only one thing came to mind every time I opened my Christmas archives in my forty-something, only-child-who-was-really-spoiled brain.

-A deck of 101 Dalmatians cards.

-A deck of cards, Mom, are you serious?

-Yes, very serious.

It was in 1989, I think, after receiving my entire wish list and more, that a deck of cards was found in my Christmas stocking.

A deck of cards like we all know, but in this one, the kings, queens, and jacks had been replaced by Dalmatians from the Disney movie.

I still have it, I think, somewhere in my box of memories.

It's the gift I remember the most because every Sunday, Dad and I played cards with it. While Mom cooked things that only she knew how to cook. Every Sunday. We played Crazy Eights, Go Fish, but most importantly, Cagnotte. Cagnotte was a game we had invented together. Our rules, our moment. We were the kings of Sunday. It was worth more than all the toys in the world.

It's been a long time since we played, and I think I'll ask Dad soon.

Being with Dad. Our moment. I thought we were the aces of the world for inventing a game. The most beautiful gift.

My cards are yellowed, and the corners are all bent from playing a lot, but they remain the most beautiful of all. Bent cards have plenty of stories to tell.

Actually, the most beautiful gift we can offer to our children is our time. This deck of cards is a privileged space-time. A board game, a puzzle these are privileged moments that, in their boxes weathered by time, always age well and serve as reminders of our most beautiful years.

They are never obsolete; time does not perish.

It's funny because the more technology advances, the more the gifts we give to children lead them to isolate themselves. Consoles, tablets, smartphones. Yet, what is most precious to them is the time we spend with them.

So, I decided to invest in time.

This year it will be:

Something to play together

Something for outdoor family fun.

- Something to wear during our popcorn nights

Something to read at bedtime

- Something he really wants

And I'm thinking of asking Dad to slip a deck of cards into his grandson's stocking. Because who knows, maybe Cagnotte can be played with three too!


Catherine Parent


Lalita’s Art Shop 

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