At least once a week, my family gets together with my uncle and his family, and sometimes with some family friends, to eat good food and play cards till the wee hours of the morning. I love it because of the fact that it’s something that gets me back in check after a week of work and constantly being on the go, ticking things off my to-do lists.

After dinner, the card-playing begins. It’s a simple game that our family has been playing for years. I don’t know where it originated though. At first, I thought it was a game passed on within our family, until I taught it to my best friend one day, only to learn that his dad had played an almost identical game back home (we are Ethiopian, he is Eritrean). The game is called Conquer and is played as a series of mini-games, where the objective is to get rid of your cards and be left with the lowest ranking cards in the end. Each card is equivalent in points to what number it has on it (for example, a 2 of any suit would count as two points). At the end of each mini-game, the points are tallied, and written on a score sheet. When the players decide to stop playing, the points of all the games are added together, and the person with the lowest score wins. There are more details to it, but I’ll leave that for some other time.

Family night is something that has become more and more important over the years, as my siblings and I have all been getting busier as we get older. With school, work, and other side projects/events/etc., the family finding time to spend together without any interruptions is a tough thing to do. So, we make it a point to spend at least one day/night every week with each other, doing anything we want, on the condition that we limit our use of the internet, cell phones, iPods, etc. down to only what is necessary.

If you don’t already do something like this, I highly recommend trying this out. Family is incredibly important, and if the relationships with our family members are not taken care of, it’s possible to fall into a state of just being no more than people that happen to be related living together. Effort is necessary in any and every relationship, but the ones we share with family will last us a lifetime, and perhaps two, if we are blessed to have our families together in Paradise.

I intend on continuing this after I’m married and have children, insha Allah. I pray that Allah makes it possible for all of us to appreciate and make the most of the relationships we have been blessed with. Ameen.