Family Game Night
Our family has a long tradition of playing games together. My brothers and I have great memories of family get-togethers where everyone, of all ages, sat down together and played games like dominos or Cootie. There was always a lot of conversation and everyone laughed a lot. It helped keep our family close.
Cootie eventually became the game of choice. We played for prizes and the rules grew and expanded over the years. Whenever we came across a funny item or thought about throwing something away, we always asked, “Would this make a good Cootie prize?”
We never bought the commercial Cootie game sets. We play with paper, pencil, and dice. The parts are: 1=body, 2=head, 3=eye, 4=”feeler” (aka antenna), 5=tail (insects usually don’t have tails) and 6=leg. You have to roll a 1 to start, then you can add legs and a tail, but until you get a 2 for the head you can’t have eyes or feelers.
Eventually we developed what we like to call “cut-throat Cootie” where instead of passing the die around and people taking turns, everyone has their own die and rolls and draws as fast as they can, usually rolling with one hand and drawing with the other.
The noise is terrific as dice roll all around the table until someone shouts, “Cootie!” Then everyone stops and waits to see what the “winner” gets when they choose a wrapped prize from the pile.
After the first prize is unwrapped, the next winner has the choice of taking the unwrapped prize or opening another. If your prize was taken from you, you choose another wrapped prize from the pile, but not something already unwrapped. The only way to take someone else’s prize is to win a round.
At the end, there is usually some informal trading of prizes among the players. Some prizes become classics and show up at another game, disguised with wrapping so that no one will recognize it until an unsuspecting winner opens it.
In recent years, we have added other games to our gatherings including card games like Hearts and “Oh,Hell!”and games like scrabble and, of course, an old family favorite: Monopoly.
But something new is creeping into our family games. A couple of months ago we traveled to Texas to meet our newest grand daughter and to visit with her parents and our two older grandchildren. We had a family game night while we were there that was like no other. Three of us had iPods, one was using an iPhone and one of the iPods was shared.
Some were playing a Scrabble-type game (Words With Friends) and some a chess game, (Chess With Friends). We played in silence. Some people were multitasking, working on homework or reading a book. We were all in the same room, but there was little or no interaction between the players as they sent their moves out over the internet. What has happened to our laughter-filled family game nights?
They are still there for the taking, we just have to make the effort. Meanwhile, now, while we are all separated by many miles, we continue to play chess and word games on our devices. It is a way of keeping in touch. But, I hope that next time we get together, we can put away the electronics and get out some of the old familiar games…. Monopoly anyone? Or how about some Cut-throat Cootie?