Enjoying a game night

Game night is alive and well this winter. It reminds me again how much fun such a simple pleasure as board games with friends can be. I’ve spent several very enjoyable evenings the past few months gathered around a table with others learning the skills and strategies of dominoes and a dice game.

Simple pleasures just may be the best. You don’t need special effects or video displays or electronic scoring to just gather around a table and spend some time with your friends. Of course, there are other ways to do that-eating or drinking or crafting, perhaps-to name a few. But as my late grandma used to say, “playing cards always gives you something to do with your hands while you visit with your friends.” I think she had the right idea there.

That must be the social approach to playing games, and that’s me. Generally, I just like to be there with my friends and family, socializing, having a few snacks. I do try my best to follow the game, though. Still, as my son told me over one game when I asked again whose turn it was, “Mom, it’s always your turn whenever we’re waiting.”

Then there are the competitive types who play games to win, regardless of what is the game of choice. They’re the ones who have to keep score, must play by the rules, and need to finish the game out to the very end every time. The worst among them may belittle other players for their moves or let loose with an angry outburst when they lose.

That’s not my kind of game night.

My grandparents taught us to play cards before we were ten, so we would know how to socialize in the right situation. They must have been very patient with me, because I remember thinking that I would never really get it. I’m not sure I do yet, although I can hold my own in a game of 500. My grandma didn’t teach my children to play 500, but they played other card games with her.

One sweet memory of my daughter as a little girl not more than four years old at family gatherings is when she’d come up beside my grandma, with a deck of cards in her hand, and ask if her great-grandma wanted to play cards. And the answer, “Well, what are we going to play today, little girl?” always came with a smile.

Such situations must have given my children a good start, because they both still like to play games with friends. My son is into unusual, international-type games. I don’t even try to keep up on that.

I’ll just stick with my good old board games and my friends, and maybe we’ll have a fire in the fireplace.