Last week I was looking at board games at one of super stores. It was my daughter’s birthday, and she loves games. Two things surprised me. The prices are outrageous these days, and they are still making the game Mouse Trap. That game stunk 35 years ago. How can it still be on the market? I was one disappointed little kid when that fancy-smancy mousetrap contraption didn’t work.
But disappointment is one thing, anxiety is quite another. I blame The Operation Game for us becoming a Prozac Nation. Seriously, who wasn’t a basket case after trying to remove Sam’s—Did you know that was his name?—spare rib or that tiny pencil giving him writer’s cramp? I hated when one of my friends wanted to play it. I used to get heart palpitations and break out in a cold sweat because I was afraid I was going to be shocked, even though it had never happened. There's always a first time.
Another game that made me nervous was Perfection, but at least I learned to like it, thanks to the coolest teenage guy baby sitter ever. He made up this game where the Perfection box was a bomb. He hid it and my brothers and I had to find and diffuse it before it blew up. Sadly, when it was my youngest brother’s turn, he freaked out, threw it against the wall, and broke the timer. I was devastated over the loss. We couldn’t play the bomb game anymore.
Many of my memories involve games. I remember my childhood best friend teaching me to play Monopoly and saying she had to hand out two properties at the beginning. I caught on to her tricks when I figured out her properties, Boardwalk and Park Place, were worth much more than mine, Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue. (She also tried to do a roller skating trick once where she skated over me, lost her balance, and sat on my face. But on the positive side, she tied my shoes for me at recess until fourth grade and campaigned for me to go on vacation to Florida with her family. That’s another wonderful story I’ll save for another day.)
My parents used to have groups of friends over to play rousing games of Aggravation while all the kids jumped on the bed in my room or played hide-and-seek and swinging statue outside. Sometimes our parents would play card games like Nertz or Spades, and when we became teens, we played our own game of cards.
My best girlfriends from elementary on used to have sleepovers and play Charades. Our all-time favorite songs to slip into the bowl were "I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see if I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me" and "I have tears in my ears from lying on my back while I’m crying over you." I hadn’t played Charades in years, but last Christmas we played with family. And what a blast!
These great memories came back to me all because I cruised the game aisle. I realized I’ve missed creating fun new memories with family and friends over the past couple of years. Life has a tendency to get away from us. Our connections to friends weaken. Our family time becomes an endless list of places to be or things to do. Our lives turn into a grind. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The coming holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to drag out the board games, have some fun, and make memories that will bring us smiles in the years to come. In fact, my New Year’s resolution is to host more game nights in 2011 where I will force family and friends to act like fools and laugh themselves silly. I know they’ll thank me for it later.
Do you have game nights with family or friends? What games do you like or remember from childhood?