There's been some hum in the media this week about the fading pleasure of board games. Competition with Xbox, laptops and iphone games, means many family favourites are gathering dust. But psychologists are telling us we're missing out on something valuable... and need to revisit our yesteryears once again.
My Beloved and I did that just last night. Challenged to a game of real Scrabble, (you know, the one with wooden tiles and velvet pouch), I dug the board out and set it up for battle. In this house, my Beloved is the Scrabble Champion. For a maths brain, he really does put me to shame when we mess with words. But yesterday was my day to triumph and steal the win with the very last slide of letters.
Here's some of that value I observed while we played.
1. Games Draw Us Together. While our teenagers did not join us, they were interested in knowing who would beat who, and threw plenty of teasing our way as we battled it out. They hovered and laughed as we filled the board with words. Our youngest even sat at the table with us when he realised the game was on and moderated most disputes with the wisdom of a fourteen year old. When the game was over, and I texted our daughter the earth shattering news of my win, more good humoured texts followed. In short, we wove a web of smiles and touched hearts.
2. Games Knit Our Memories. In a world where so much competes for our individual attention, board games gather and hold us. Do you remember who taught you to play your favourite board game? My Uncle Peter bought our first Monoploy and Scrabble set when my brother and I were kids. He played like a ruthless tycoon and wiped the board with us. Every time. But the memories are sweet. Of winter afternoons at my Mum's kitchen table, steam trickling down the windows while she bubbled soup on the stove for our tea. Laughter. Frustration. Love and security. It all come out with the lift of each game box lid.
3. Games Shape Our Dignity. When I was a little girl I often tried to best one of our neighbour kids at Chess. He was too good and I don't remember beating him. Ever. But I came close one time. And he knew it. So he wiped the board clean with his palm before the game's end, sending kings and queens into undignified huddles with lowly pawns. I'll never forget the lesson I learned that day. How the measure of a person is wrapped in their response to winning or losing.
Yesterday's loser winked at me and applauded my victory. He marked the score sheet with gladness, and shook his head at the sneaky way I'd stolen the win. But he bowed graciously and allowed me the honour. Mind you, he'll probably wipe the table with me when we sit down for a rematch, but he'll do it with another wink and smile. (And that's why I married him.)
For smiles and winks, and old fashioned togetherness.
How old fashioned do you get at your place? Do you think board games are becoming a lost past-time?
What's your family's favourite?