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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Game On

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?


  1. We don't have game nights, but my daughter and I love to make big puzzles. My son plays the guitar and we sing along while we puzzle.

  2. That sounds like a lot of fun, Clarissa. Puzzles are another great way to spend time together. Our daughter just got a karaoke machine for her birthday & hubby is taking guitar lessons. I'm anticipating many performances. :)

  3. We have game night several times a year. There is a closet full of board games at my house. My siblings have refused to play Monopoly with me for over a decade, because they're tired of me always winning. Clue (or Harry Potter Clue) is a staple, but it is easier to beat my sister if she's been drinking. We love word games like Scattergories, Balderdash, and Scrabble. Mom has always had a fixation with Uno, but we've introduced her to better games now. Team games are always good, like Taboo. But the newest game that we can't get enough of? Cranium. If you've never played it, I highly recommend it. It's a game that anyone can be good at, at least parts of it, and your teammates will hopefully be good at other parts of it. I guarantee you will laugh a lot if you play this game. (But it may not be suitable for children. I once had to get my teammates--including my mother--to guess the word shuttlecock and could only use clay. I'll leave the rest of that story for you to figure out on your own.)

  4. LOL! Yeah, shuttlecock out of clay might be a bit awkward with the in-laws. We have the kid's version of the game. :)

    I love the word games, too. We sometimes play Apple-To-Apples. I also used to really like Pictionary.

  5. I wish I'd had your childhood! Games were never a big when I was a kid, and these days it's very hard to be trashed every single game by your 17yo son (from about the age of 8). LOL.

    Of late, we've been having Friday night poker night with the kids. It's fun and silly. The winner - get to pack the chips away!

  6. Oh how I remember those days!! Endless games of charades and spades. A couple of years ago "Santa Claus" brought a TON of the classic board games. I hope we can have more game nights in the new year. They are so much fun.

  7. Stacy!

    How awesome that you stopped by. Wouldn't it be fun to get together for sleepover again?

    I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving and holiday season.


  8. I am laughing over Operation. I felt the same way - hated playing that game. We played a lot of cards. Canasta was really big for the kids in the neighborhood. We used to have tournements from the time we are 13 or so. My family played a lot of poker and the first grandson, my nephew, learned his numbers from taking turns sitting on different laps. We also play Shanghi Rummy and Dominos. Everytime the family gets together we play either Dominos or cards. My kids didn't really like to play many games - except Risk. We've played that a lot. My newly married daughter has asked for Monopoly and Scrabble because they are games that 2 people can play. So, I will be hitting game asile for Christmas and picking up 2 people games. I think I will need to add Risk to her list.

  9. We played a lot of board games and card games when I was growing up. I remember playing Life a lot, and now I don't remember why it was so intriguing -- a primer for the real thing? LOL

    My family played a lot of different card games, and I think it was good for helping us think on our feet--or at least that's my story. LOL

  10. Amy,

    I've never heard of Shanghi Rummy, and I never learned to play Risk. Hmm... I should learn to play. More two person games are Othello, Scrabble and backgammon. I guess Cribbage too, but that's another one I never learned.

    Isn't it funny how playing Life was so fun when we were little? I had a game called Payday that I loved. It involved paying bills and trying to make it to payday. LOL! What a horrible game!

  11. Heather,

    I wasn't ignoring you. Blogger wouldn't let me comment yesterday afternoon. Poker night sounds like lots of fun. Keep making those memories with the boys. :)