I believe in games.
My wife does not exaggerate when she tells people I probably have more games than I can sit down and play seriously in my lifetime. Board games, card games, German games, dice games…plastic pieces, dice, cardboard chits, spinners. My garage is full of them.
Most people think that games are frivolous. Certainly not something a set of core beliefs should be founded on.
Then I’m there, 9 years old, playing Cribbage with my father as he had done in the Navy, minus the money, of course. We’re bonding as we found it so difficult to do in other circumstances. He’s not around to play Cribbage with anymore, but my memories remain.
And I’m at work on my lunch break, playing bridge with Michelle…who used to be Michael. They say that the worst one can do to transgendered people is to ostracize them. Bridge was both a noun and a verb for us at work, a safe way to let Michelle know that the world still had a place for her and that people were still there for her.
Games are egalitarian that way. Monopoly doesn’t care what your creed, color, or religion is. You are simply the thimble, the race car, or the top hat. Chess transcends even further, reaching across centuries and the existence of countries and civilizations to bring those under candle light and electric lights into the same space of mind.
As children, games are the testing ground for the principles we hold dear throughout our lives. Playing fair, compromise, competition, winning graciously, losing graciously, knowing how systems of rules work and following them. The rule of law, the basis of democracy, the Bill of Rights, I believe our understanding of them all began somewhere in our childhood with a game of Crazy Eights or Go Fish.
I have a blended family with a daughter, a son, and a stepdaughter. At first, my stepdaughter hated me, my son was very adamant to point out that we weren’t all a real family, and my daughter burst into tears when I told her I was getting married. Yet, somehow it all came together, over the game table, sharing and laughing with one another.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Games, however, are not one of them.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.