I think we could almost measure joy by watching children involved in playing games. If you try to picture a little girl on a sidewalk hopscotch grid, there is a certain whimsey and a smile that graces your face. Try holding a handful of antique marbles and you will become transfixed by their colors, patterns, and sizes. Picture the giggles that a good old game of Mouse Trap can emote. And then let your mind wander to the chaos of Musical Chairs, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or Duck, Duck Goose! Did you spend part of your childhood asking questions like, “What time is it Mr. Fox?,“ or “Mother May I?”
Many of our precious memories can be built around our recall of board games played with our friends, siblings, and parents. Some of my favorites were Clue, Go to the Head of the Class, The Barbie Game, Yahtzee, and Life.
My mother and father had an on-going score card for Scrabble. My father was a brilliant scientist, but it was hard to beat my mother because of her mastery of words and her ability to use the score points printed on the game board to her advantage. I loved their laughter as they played and their serious concentration and competition.
My grandson liked Hide and Seek. As a grandparent, I have been guilty of setting up games to make sure my grandchild will win. I purposely did a poor job of hiding behind the shower curtain and was always the first to be found out because I planned it that way. I would feign indignation to him that I had been found so quickly and praise him for his stealth at finding me.
After my divorce, I went bowling with my new boyfriend Bob. I had never bowled more than a few games in my life. I nailed one of the highest scores of the evening the first time he took me to Colonial Lanes. Bob thought this meant that I was a natural talent. He rushed out to buy me my own bowling ball. It was a purple with sparkles and came in a fancy tote bag. Turns out that the 1st game of bowling I played was also my best. That ball ended up shoved to the back of the attic.
My mother was part of a bridge club. As a little girl, I would sneak down the stairs and hide behind the china cupboard to watch the fancy ladies play. Every woman had her own little dish of bridge mix. For those that do not know, Bridge Mix is a delightful chocolate assortment. Little handmade tally cards looked glamourous and the women were all dressed ‘to the nines’ for the evening. Their conversations were filled with great stories and much laughter.
The year now is 2020. I am no longer a girl hidden behind a china cupboard. I am a mature 66-year-old single grandmother. This year we struggle through a pandemic. This disease is like an angry ugly person shouting at us, “I’m not playing games.” Last week, I began to worry that I might not even be fun anymore because fun feels so elusive now.
This is also a year where I feel especially called to righteously stand for Black Lives Matter and to support the “I can’t breathe” protests for equality.
I wonder what memories and lessons will be carried away after this year. I want us (all of us) to win over this pandemic and the racism that has plagued us. I want to play hard to make this difference. I am not sure how I will do it, but I am sure going to try.