I always try to find one small kernel of hope as I contemplate the start of a new year.
Upon returning to the bachelor estate after spending Christmas weekend with the family, I took a spin through social media.
The thing that gave me the greatest dose of optimism was the discovery that a lot of people seemed to have done exactly what I had done spent time relaxing with their families and playing games.
I’m not sure this qualifies as a trend yet, but I definitely like the direction things are going.
Playing games with family and friends is one of the best ways I can think of to pass the time on a cold winter’s day.
It doesn’t matter much what the game is, or who wins or loses.
This Christmas, I had the pleasure of playing Scrabble with my sister. This has long been a favorite in our family.
When I was setting up the game, I couldn’t help giving my sister the business.
She has about five versions of Scrabble games in her possession, but the one we normally use is an ancient affair held together with rubber bands and tape.
The box in which it is packed has seen better days. I use the term “box” loosely, because it is really an affair of tattered cardboard in a shape that somewhat resembles a box.
Without the assistance of some sturdy rubber bands, it’s unlikely the box could keep anything contained.
The letter holders are stained with decades of finger prints. The board is faded, and threatening to come apart at the folds.
My sister is frugal, but I don’t believe this is why she is still using this ancient set.
I think it reminds her, as it does me, of the hundreds of hours of joy it has given us playing and laughing with our mother, aunt, and other assorted friends and family.
It’s not much of a box, but it holds countless priceless memories more securely than any treasure chest could.
Just seeing that worn old Scrabble game makes me smile as it reminds me of misty mornings at the cabin, watching the sun come up over the lake while enjoying the day’s first cup of coffee and perhaps some toast.
It reminds me of frosty winter evenings with the cold wind howling outside the windows while we were snug inside, building words and enjoying a glass or two of wine.
Whatever that game cost, the purchase price has been repaid thousands of times in the currency of love and laughter.
It may not be pretty, but it sure is beautiful.
Scrabble is not the only game to inspire happy memories.
A simple deck of cards and a cribbage board can take me back in time, as well.
I enjoyed playing cribbage with my mother, and she often talked about how she enjoyed playing with her father.
A game doesn’t need to be new to be powerful.
I can’t look at a cribbage board without remembering the winter of 1985. It snowed early and often that year, and it was the year my aunt and uncle gave me my own pair of skis (I had been borrowing one of their old pairs up to that time).
It seems like my uncle and I went cross country skiing nearly every day that winter, although I’m sure it wasn’t quite that often.
I still remember the feeling of spending time getting some good vigorous exercise in the frosty air, and then returning home and playing cribbage while sipping steaming hot cocoa.
More than three decades later, I remember it as clearly as if it had been yesterday.
Another of our family’s favorite games was Trivial Pursuit.
That is a perfect game for someone like me who can’t remember much that is important, but who remembers all kinds of useless information.
Despite the many revisions, we preferred the original version.
Even after playing for many years, we often found ourselves remembering the same wrong answers, and they were still wrong the next time we tried to use them.
All of these games have a way of bringing us closer together.
They generate conversation, jokes, and laughter.
I have learned a lot about my family’s history, and many other subjects, through conversations that took place while playing games.
The world is always changing, but I can’t help but think if we spent more time playing games, and less time reading fake news online, or posting political propaganda on social media, we’d be happier, and the world would be a better place.