Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 3 – Fun Times and Competitive Games

That which God said to the rose,
and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty,
He said to my heart,
and made it a hundred times more beautiful.

Mum always loved laughter and our house was a haven for games. I’m in the process of making a game board because the joy of playing Aggravation has captured others. This board game seems simplistic but is very deceiving…especially if playing with my brother. The board I have now is one of the newer boards but looking at pictures of the old style board brings back every single laughter and gasp as my brother would bypass his own home space to get yours.

One of my most favorite games growing up (and much forgiveness to all who I’ve forced to play with me) doesn’t have a name that I’m aware of. We coined it the Category game for lack of anything better. The premise is you have 2-3 decks of cards placed in the middle of a table. Everyone gathers around and a category is chosen (for illustration I’ll pick animals). Each person in their mind picks an example from this category (such as Tiger). Once everyone has their item picked, everyone states their item round robin style only saying it once. No repeats are allowed. The first person starts and flips a card quickly from the deck and places it in front of them (the trick is to flip quickly – no cheating). Each person flips their card and if there is a match of number you have to call the other person’s item before yours is called (the suit is irrelevant). Whoever calls correctly gives the loser their pile of cards. The person with the least amount wins.

Just like all things in life, the best part of anything is the company you are with. My mum was the best person to play this game. We would always end up with sore tummies from so much laughter. We didn’t really play fair because we would always choose the most difficult items knowing she wouldn’t be able to get it. If we chose countries as a category, she would generally pick Japan which was easy to remember for everyone else. I would choose something like Kazakhstan which was horribly mean. It’s so hard to remember everyone’s item so when my mum had a match there was no telling what would come out of her mouth – hence the insane laughter. There were many times where both people would forget the other’s item and between guttural speak and crazy hand gestures our tummies would have serious stitches The coup de grace of the game was once the winner is found, the rest of the players pile up their hands one on top of the other with the most cards on the bottom. This is the part we feared when my brother won. He would flourish with drama the winner’s advantage. Once the hands are piled up, the winner has to smack the hands at the winner’s timeframe. The losers don’t know when it will happen but they have to be prepared to move their hands away quickly or be smacked. If you ever have a chance to play with my brother, I will keep his dramatic flair as a surprise. Just be warned.

We would also have summer long competitions. Mum would draw up a board with our names and keep our score tallied and at the end of summer the overall winner would get a prize, usually $100. Pops would work diligently typing codes into a cassette to program games (this was pre- Nintendo and super gaming computers). We loved playing Pac-man or Crazy Climber.

Mum’s jovial spirit was infused in almost every gathering. When my brother brought his 4 boys to visit, mum would devise all types of crazy things to do and I would be recruited to help her execute it. We blew up balloons stuffed with different denominations, hung them on a string and mum attached a needle to the end of a pole. We would blindfold the player and they would have 3 attempts to pop a balloon and receive anywhere from $1-$10.

Speaking of different denominations, our biggest family tradition was during Christmas. We would be joyously opening presents when Pops, who distributed the presents, would suddenly ask one of us to get something such as shaving cream. That was family speak for under the shaving cream top was hidden money. My brother, again being wicked competitive, would take forever coming back because he would be searching around everywhere for other monies. This tradition has evolved to a few Christmases ago when my parents had us go in the bedroom with the door closed. They would hide money in the living room and kitchen. Once they were ready, we were put in place around the rooms and on their say we would have to find any money we could. That was also the year that their couch cushions ended up everywhere thanks to my brother and my son. They would come up with the craziest places to hide money. This past Christmas we continued the tradition but Pops put his spin on it by adding a slew of $2 bills. We actually found a bill that was still hidden a few months ago. This is the game that keeps giving!!
Anytime I had a gathering and I needed ideas for activities, my mum would come up with the greatest ideas. For my son’s birthday, she drew a face on a board. Separately, she had the eyes, nose and mouth which we put in a bag. The party guest was blindfolded and had to put the eyes, nose and mouth on the board and see how their creation turned out. Drake’s friends laughed at each other’s creations and laughed hardest at their own.

I feel extremely lucky to carry on the traditions I had growing up. A road trip is never boring because I’ll always remember the many ways Mum had of playing games in the car. Lately I’ve become obsessed with the show Minute to Win It and use many examples of their games in gatherings for my nephews, niece and my partner’s family.
It’s so great to gather items from around the home to create amazing competition,
and I see my mum looking down and laughing her head off.

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