Remembers fun family games

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Games night was a family event. Although my parents both worked hard, long hours, I have many recollections of family time. Because Dad kept a few dairy cows we had to be home at set times. In between we had frequent day trips: we were often at Radium Hot Springs, doing a quick tour of Banff’s highlights, walking the trails to Bighorn Falls west of Sundre, or just having a picnic lunch on some back roadside turnoff. We even went berry picking as a family, not a favourite outing but we were able to make it fun, telling stories, singing or teasing each other. We knew that the merits of our efforts were sure to be a tasty treat. Friday nights, if we weren’t going to youth group, we often had a games night around the large dining room table. We played Rook or Pit, both card games. Pit was based on economics, the bear and bull market. We learned the hard way that if we invested all our time and money in one commodity, our strategy led to an economic crisis. Of course as a pre-teen I didn’t really care about that. It was merely a difficult game of wits. Dad’s favourite game was Crokinole. He shot the playing piece across the target with great skill. It was somewhat like curling; the aim was to remove or block your opponent and hit the centre yourself. We played Old Maid, Go Fish and jacks as younger kids. We enjoyed Scrabble, learning to spell and to share. At our table we gave tiles to each other, if the gift made it possible for someone else to build an excellent word. I learned later that was not the point of the game but I liked our version much better. Monopoly was also a frequent board game on our table. With this game we bought and sold and manipulated our properties. We each received a stack of imitation bills to spend or save as we chose. Pretty heady stuff for a 10-year-old. My husband also encouraged our sons to learn to play. He, however, had been an only child and played to win, whatever the game. He bought all the properties he could, put houses and hotels on them and raked in the penalties from everyone who landed there. He was merciless and played with a hard heart. Who was this fellow who loved his kids and encouraged them, except across a game board? Mom and her daughters enjoyed a more rousing game of Dutch Blitz, a Mennonite card game. That sounds like an oxymoron. Our ancestors didn’t believe in owning the usual playing cards as they were used for gambling. They invented a set of their own, with colourful Old Order relics: an old pump, a plow, a wooden bucket and a buggy. They also feature a male and a female in old-fashioned costumes. The game is played in sequential numbered stacks in four different colours. Rather than playing around the table everyone plays at once. It gets quite rowdy and hilarious. One of my friends posted a tongue-in-cheek article concerning the casualties and injuries incurred in a recent Dutch Blitz tournament. My brother attended a conference where an activity included playing in a gymnasium using life-sized cards and teams as runners. That would be a sight. Whatever the game, we always had fun together. The house was filled with laughter, groans for the loser and encouragement to try again.

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About Author

Joyce Hoey

Joyce Hoey is a longtime Mountain View Publishing columnist who lives in Olds, Alberta.