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Thursday, December 29, 2011


At eleven, I made a pledge with all of the passion and earnest angst an eleven-year old can summon. I swore that, if ever I had children, I would play games with them. Being the youngest in a family that was not particularly game-oriented, I wanted to change the course of history by starting a game-playing family of my own.
When I was dusting this morning, I happened to remember that vow. On the shelf underneath the coffee table in my living room there are stacks of books, an assortment of photo albums and yes, a collection of games. Without moving a thing, I could read the covers of various games: Mad Gab, Boggle, Apples to Apples, Scattegories and The Office. In a nearby kitchen drawer I have stored Scrabble, Monopoly, and Yahtzee. When I reflect on the young girl who so desperately wanted someone to make time, no, take time, to play with her, it seems like a lifetime ago. I was often sick in childhood, and I would long for companionship. It was the long stretches when my mother was teaching, my father was at the bank, and my sister was at school, that I developed my love of words. Since I did not have a partner to play the kind of games I longed to play, I played word games, passed time fiddling with anagrams, and read. When I finished one book, I always had three more at the ready by my bed. I had three or four decks of cards and books of mental challenges. All rather solitary in their pursuit.
During these holidays, I find myself with a crew of young adults who love to play games. My three children and their friends often gather here for game night. Pictionnary, What Would You Do? and Cranium are games we keep in the closet as alternatives to the ones under the coffee table. They are often pulled out for a change of pace.
However, I had a moment of the-world-is-a-wonderful-place serenity this afternoon. When I came into the kitchen, I found my daughter and her boyfriend engrossed in an intense game of checkers. I felt this small tickle of joy. Games, even old, tried and true games, exactly the same as ones I had once ached to play, are played in my house.

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