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In Praise of Cardboard

gamesWhile on a reorganizing binge this week, I finally gathered all of our family’s board games and loaded them into one big cupboard that we have in the living room. Younger kid games on the bottom shelf, older kid/adult games on the top shelf. We have a ridiculous amount of boardgames, I came to discover, now that I could see them all in one location.

But, in my book, that’s a good thing. I love board games and games in general, much to the dismay of my larger, extended family, who is usually cajoled into playing them on holidays. Back in the 70s, when I grew up, we didn’t have VCRs, or DVDs, or xBox or video games. We had roller skating and playing outside until the light dipped from the sky, we had dollhouses and games of wall-ball and dodgeball, riding bikes and playing poor-man’s tennis, whacking balls against the garage. And board games. I remember playing quite a lot with my mom after dinner when I was small. Boggle, Ming, Scrabble, Sorry. Uno.

And so now, we try to resurrect those with our kiddos, despite owning DVD players, Wii and x-box. Let’s keep old school alive and kicking in the midst of all of this! We’ve gotten into the habit of playing a game together while we are eating dinner, on those non-activity nights when the timing works, or on a Sunday evening, at the big coffee table in front of our fireplace. Plates of dinner accompany us and our games top off the weekend on a great note.

My parents were in town this weekend. We had had a nice day, but nothing all that out of the ordinary in terms of visits. But after we came home from going out to dinner, it was still early, so we decided to whip out a board game for all of us to play. That’s the nice thing about kids getting older…you can include everyone and venture beyond Candy Land. Scattergories was the choice. What resulted was loads of laughter that would not have transpired otherwise and a memorable time spent together. We were still laughing about some of our answers the next morning. And all because of some cardboard, a dice, a notepad and pencils.

Playing these games also seems to get minds working and creative juices flowing (with the possible exception of an adult being forced into a game of Candy Land for the 1000th time). Recently, while in the car, my younger daughter was looking out the window at the passing landscape and announced that “it looked like the game The Settlers of Cattan” because of the quilt-like fields. I like hearing those remarks because it means that associations are being made and when that occurs, creativity is sparked.

Going old school and dipping into that game closet can be a great thing…perfect and simple. With everyone scoring big.

*A few of our favorites, for more than two players: Doodle Dice, Blokus (my absolute favorite), Blokus Trigon, The Settlers of Cattan (our newest favorite), Scattergories, Loaded Questions (for an older crowd)

For two players: Mancala, MasterMind, Hive, Bananagrams, Othello

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