Ever since I can remember we have been a family of games. Whether it was playing cards while camping, playing board games with friends or inventing new games outside when we were young, it was a great way to pass the time and stretch our mental limits.
I think I was seven when my aunt had first taught me to shuffle a deck of cards, not in the clumsy kids’ way, but rather the cards bent with your thumb on top of the rectangle kind of way. It sounds like when kids put playing cards in the spokes of bikes to make them sound “cool”. It took a lot of patience on my aunts part, and a lot of practice on my part but eventually I impressed the local kids with my card savvy. They clamored around me to have their turn with the new card guru.
Mum taught us Marbles in the back yard, and we spent our allowance money on bags of the clear round shooters that had intrigued my mother in her youth. I loved the way she would describe the tournaments she and her friends would have and how when describing a certain large bowler in her collection she would get this smile on her face and glazed eyes while remembering. She would tell us how she would hit the other marbles out of the ring and emerge the victor collecting the other kid’s marbles as her prize. Her grin was large when she got down on all fours to show us how it was done, and when she did, it was like I had somehow stepped back in time and I could see her there as she would have been in her youth.
The most popular games with my family were Monopoly, Sorry, Uno, Gin Rummy, Solitaire, Crazy Eights, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Mind Trap, Mastermind, Trivia Games, and Scrabble and more recently Pictionary, and Cranium have joined the top ranks as well.
Now as we are much older, and have families of our own we delight in coming together to visit over dinner, and once the dishes have been washed and the remaining food put away, game night begins. We break into teams—almost always it is boys against girls—and there are times when I am sure our laughter is heard all the way down the street.
Games have taught me many things over the years, sportsmanship, respect, expanding my intellect, rising to a challenge, patience, problem solving, and how to laugh at myself. More importantly they have taught me more about humanity, how to respect and accept our differences, and how to work through whatever faces us. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it all boils down to how much fun you had.