"And make time to play a board game with your family," my daughter admonished her freshmen in college English 140, as she wished them a Happy Thanksgiving or Great American Turkey Sacrifice Day. They laughed at the Turkey Sacrifice and even a little bit about the board game. Surprisingly, several admitted that they had never played a board game with the family!
That part is so sad. Board games, card games, and dominoes are a part of my family's tradition. My Dad used to take great pleasure in sitting next to Mom for hard-fought Uno games. He took turns trashing her and whoever was on his other side, and he did it with glee. Mom, especially, would take it with such grace, usually saying something like, "Now, Demps" (Dad's name). I remember my husband "teaching" Dad to play spades, a game we loved to play in college. On the very first game, Dad obliterated everyone. Floyd said to him, "Somehow, I think you may have played this before." Dad replied, with a sheepish grin and a gleam in his sapphire blue eyes, "Well, maybe it did start to come back to me a little as we were playing..."
My Grandpa England (Dad's Dad) was a checkers expert, and he did love to play checkers with the grandchildren. I don't remember him ever cutting us any slack. Checkers was serious stuff, and you lost until you learned to play. That was a valuable life lesson, and we all did learn to play.
My husband's parents loved dominoes. Talk about a lesson in math! My father-in-law had been a truck driver and a farmer. He was one of those people who carried a pencil and a notepad in his pocket all the time. He was constantly figuring bushels per acre, loads on the truck, or formulas for fertilizer, both in his head and on paper. He was formidable in dominoes. As a couple, my mother and father-in-law used to regularly play cards with friends.
Then there is Monopoly! Oh my, the marathon Monopoly games we've had, and the special joy of cheating. My brother is a master at the game, and there is nothing better for any of the nieces and nephews than beating Uncle John at Monopoly, especially if they also managed to cheat creatively in the process!
My husband and I get together with our best friends, Judy and Paul Abrisz, for Mille Borne games and sometimes hearts or spades. It's been our tradition for 40 years.
This Thanksgiving is so poignant for our family, as my mother-in-law died a few days ago, and we buried her on Tuesday. Today, we are having Thanksgiving dinner for the first time without a grandparent present (my mother is the only one still alive, and though we are not with her today, we will see her later in the weekend). We are, however, going to play a board game. I wish we still had the set of bone double 12 dominoes that my father-in-law cherished. They somehow got lost in all of the down-sizing that goes along with growing older.
The good news: My daughter received an email from one of her students saying that she had taken her teacher's advice and played a board game with her family that was "surprisingly fun." We can influence the next generation, after all.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy board games to all!