“What should we play tonight?” my dad would ask. “Monopoly? Old Maid? Trouble?”
As a child, I looked forward to game night every week. On Wednesdays, my dad would come home early from work and my mom would have dinner ready and waiting. After dinner my mom, dad, younger brother, and I would gather around the table and begin to play. Each week we would play a game different than the one we had played the week before. During the games we would talk. We talked about school and work, what we had seen and what we had done. Several game nights when I was seven years old were spent discussing getting a new puppy after our dog had died. During a game night when I was nine years old, my parents told my brother and me that we would be moving to California that summer. We didn’t play games to win or lose, we played them to spend time together as a family. It was a time during which we created lasting bonds with each other.
As I grew older, I outgrew game night. Middle school and high school meant more homework and less time to play games. A driver’s license meant fewer nights at home. The bonds I had formed with my family remained, but game night became a childhood memory. After I graduated from high school, I said goodbye to my family and moved out to pursue a college education. I didn’t know how this drastic change would affect the relationship I had with my family. When it was time to visit home for my first Christmas after moving out, I didn’t know what to expect. After being away for several months, I was excited to see my family, enjoy my mom’s cooking, and sleep on a full sized mattress. On the other hand, I felt apprehensive about going back to a house that I no longer considered home. While my family and I sat at the table talking after dinner on my first night back home, the last thing I expected was my dad to ask everyone if we wanted to play a game. When he asked that question, I finally felt at home again. After so long, I still believe in the power of playing games to bring a family together. With a smile all I could say in response was, “What game should we play tonight?”
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