the story behind the story of our christmas eve tradition

My dad introduced the tradition of BINGO six years ago and it was an instant hit.

2007 bingo prize poolxmas collage2

But really…  when faced with a huge pool of gifts, how could it not be?

xmas collage1

At first glance, this might look like a simple game of mass consumption.  [It sorta is.]  But there is so much more to it.  So much more.  Let me back up a bit to describe what Christmas Eve used to look like pre-BINGO. 

Our holidays were dominated by the dysfunction of a family member struggling with a mental illness:  tears, demands, violent outbursts, everyone walking on eggshells… it was utter and total chaos.

BINGO prizes

We experienced YEARS of this.  (As a side note, when my husband Tony first met the family it was on Christmas Eve.  When he talks about it today… almost 20 days later, he still shakes his head increduously.) 

the spinner

Most of my holiday memories are marked with painful scenes of one sort or another – that is until my dad came up with BINGO. 


It gave us something fun to focus on as a group, helping us create fond memories.

Grandma Pateager anticipationthe fish

Especially poignant for me these last few years because it has helped to focus on the joy of being together instead of the loss and pain that has resulted from my sibling’s mental illness.

Not that BINGO doesn’t have controversy of its own.

da rules

Every year, my dad seems to introduce some new “rule” that shakes things up a bit.  And once in a while there’s a special gift in there for me…


Like this handmade box that held my dad’s roller skates as a boy (HE made the box!)  – there is precious little I have ever seen from my dad’s childhood so this was a real treasure.

As silly as it may sound, BINGO has been a source of healing for me.  God used it to bring about a renewed sense of unity and joy during a time when my family of origin needed it most.

When I needed it most.

Many of you are facing your own difficulties this holiday season – sickness, loss, divorce to name just a few.  My heart is truly with you today and I pray you will be abundantly blessed with joy of your own.

Lori - December 24, 2012 - 1:11 pm

Tina, I hope you have a blessed Christmas!

Tina - December 24, 2012 - 1:23 pm

You and your family as well, Lori!

ALICE - December 25, 2012 - 11:20 pm

tina, how beautiful! thank you for sharing.

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