Updated: May 13, 2021
Yesterday was Mother’s day and I was so excited, however not for the reasons that you might expect. My adult children and husband planned a family gathering to celebrate the day, which was wonderful. But I was more excited about someone else’s gift.
I didn’t want to intrude on another mother’s big day, so I enjoyed the time with my family eating delicious food, opening cards, and admiring beautiful flowers
— and waiting for the big news.
I recently launched a new venture, Mah Jongg Next Generation, offering classes to those interested in learning the ancient game of skill and luck. When discussing the new business with my daughter and one of her friends, a dream was visualized. How fun would it be to surprise her mother, who loved playing Mah Jongg, by starting a game on Mother’s Day, revealing that she already knew how to play? (I know all the Mah Jongg moms out there just got goose bumps.) The gift idea was too good not to share, so she invited her brother and his girlfriend to join her for some classes so they could play on Mother’s Day (you really need four to play, though there are options for fewer people.) In just four lessons — two online and two in person — they were ready to play, and “take on” their Mah Jongg Maven Mom.
Since 2017, I have been teaching Mah Jongg informally to anyone who wanted to learn: my adult children and my scrapbooking friends in two different groups. I also started a group at my synagogue Congregation Beth Israel, in Worcester, MA. We had been rolling along with weekly games, adding new students and grooming novices into budding experts, until the pandemic hit. In-person play quickly came to a halt. I took my game online as many players did, and finding I had more time at home, I was encouraged turn my love of teaching Mah Jongg into a business. I wanted to formally share my passion for Mah Jongg and build a new, larger community of Mah Jongg Players, with a focus on younger players. Hence, the birth of Mah Jongg Next Generation.
So on Mother’s Day, I was excited to hear from the adult kids who were surprising their mother with their newfound Mah Jongg skills. I was also excited for the mom whose children cared enough to invest time and money learning a game she enjoys playing. I needed to hear about the big reveal, but I patiently waited, hoping for a call or text.
Finally, a photo arrived with news about the surprise. When the kids asked, “How about a game of Mah Jongg,” their mother asked if they wanted her to teach them how to play. When they said they already knew how to play, her hysterical response was, “Oh, I am going to kick your —!”
Well, not so much. Mom did with the first game, but the second game had no winner, which means they pretty much held their own. I could not be more proud of my students who learned so well that they could challenge an experienced player.
Helping them surprise their mother is helping me realize my dream of creating the next generation of Mah jongg players. And that is a perfect Mother’s Day gift.