My grandmother was buried this weekend after a long fight with parkinsons disease. My grandmother was active in our lives growing up and through our adolescence. She was always generous and kind. It was hard to see her slowly wither away from the effects of the disease, the last few years being in a state that was more existence than living.
It was hard because there was someone I loved very much becoming a hollow shell of what she used to be and, in a way, the grandmother I knew and loved died by inches.
However, wherever she is I know she isn't happy that she ain't here with family anymore, but I know she is better off where she is than being stuck in a body racked with parkinsons and dementia. Doesn't make it much easier, despite that thought, however.
That being said, I was just wanting to share some of the happier memories that I have and ones that involve games and invite you to share games, regardless of their BGG ranking, that you and your loved ones play or played that have a special memory in your heart.
Perhaps apropos to start off the list with this entry. I am the youngest of three brothers and, my grandmother's generosity would not allow for one grandchild to stay over without having the other two over. Sometimes this was concurrently, all three of us spending the night over there, sometimes not. Growing up, she always called them our 'special days' and the days usually involved nothing too crazy; sometimes going to Target, CVS, or Toys R Us to look around and shop, occasionally getting a small something or other, usually a pack of trading cards for me. Well, back when Topps and other companies made trading cards for Animaniacs, Toy Story, AAAAH! Real Monsters, and others.
Additionally, we would sometimes see a movie and, in the afternoon hours between getting back to their house and dinner (promptly at 4pm I might add) we would play games if I wasn't out in their backyard playing with toys or on my grandfather's computer playing Oregon trail / duke nukem.
I was surprised to see the image above pop up so quickly. This was one of the two sets that we always used to play, though our set has waaay more TLC than the image above.
The fact that we ate promptly at four o'clock should give you a clue as to how, I wouldn't say regimented, but orderly my grandparents were when it came to the proper time for things to be done. Lunch was promptly at 11 am, dinner promptly at 4 pm, birthday parties started precisely at 630pm. When we were younger and spent the evenings over there in joyous activities vs. the caretaking of recent years, playing games was an often picked medium for entertainment in the evenings when a movie wasn't playing in the vhs player. Given that bedtime was promptly at 9pm that gave some time between dinner and bed.
Garfield War was a game that got a lot of play between me and my brothers at the dinner table in the evenings. My older brother typically won the games (and still does when we play any game it seems -_-) we played of this.
Surprisingly none of the versions of this we have are on the gallery. However, I added them to my personal pics until I get them submitted to the actual page.
Go Fish, because it usually relies on more than two players, was one reserved for when my brothers and I were spending the night or was a game we got our grandparents to play with us. Lol, guess I can't say more other than, well, its go fish. Nothing fancy, but looking through the three decks we got brought back lots of memories.
Yet another basic card game and yet another Garfield version of it. Sensing a pattern? We all liked Garfield growing up but my oldest brother enjoyed the stip a lot more than me or my other brother and, in addition to picking up the occasional comic book when he was out with my grandparents, he picked up these card games as well.
Actually, Garfield had a prominent role in our cultural background when I think of it. Every year me and my oldest brother get together and watch it and It's a Great Pumpkin while reminiscing and trying a few of the seasons pumpkin flavored brews.
Halloween has always figured prominently in our family. We we were growing up my grandfather and, later, our family would decorate our yard in increasingly complex halloween displays. Each year my grandfather would add at least one dummy to the yard. Towards the end of the decorating he had All the universal monsters, a demon, a guillotine with someone being executed, a graveyard with at least a dozen zombies coming out of the ground, a witch brewing body parts and a giant spider making an even bigger web on half of his house.
Unfortunately, teens from the local high school kept stealing masks, some of which were 50+ sorta burnt my grandfather out on the whole ordeal and got rid of most of it. I have a few of the masks, but I would say 90% of it probably got donated or (more likely) tossed out. Like some other things, I was too young at the time to really contemplate keeping such things for nowadays, nor really would've been able to anyway. When you 10 you aren't worrying about such things.
Bleh, lets change that modern version of Rook to box art more pleasing to the eye.
Now, while my grandfather was in charge of the outside of the house, my grandmother was in charge of the inside of the house, insofar as decorating was concerned. My grandfather kept himself busy outside once he retired with gardening (vegetable and, later roses and other flowers), yardwork and seasonal decorating. Christmas sat santa clause in a sleigh with reindeer and easter saw eggs and rabbits all over the place.
While this was occuring, my grandmother would keep the house up to date with the latest season by decorating the house in appropriate attire. Beyond the victorian stands, clothing, dolls, bears and other old lady decorations, she always ran a gamut of the seasons:
January was the aftereffects of Christmas, New Years, and Winter. February was Valentines day March and April was Springtime and Easter May was Derbytime June was summer (usually sunflowers and similar decorations) July was the 4th August and September was autum and fall decorations October was Halloween November was Thanksgiving and December was Christmas
With various decorating in between.
Oftentimes I would help decorate. Though Halloween saw me outside and Christmas saw me and my brothers decorating the basement and our tree down there. I am not ashamed to say I can decorate with the best of them. 'Them' being old ladies who decorate with flowers, vintage and stuff. Really its about how you use the space and colors in the space vs. what your actually using. To be fair, our grandfather taught us that important element when getting shirts and ties et al: style.
Red Shirt: Man cred dropping at a considerable rate capitan.
Moving on, New Years Eve usually saw us over at my grandparents growing up. Typically it involved watching some of the festivities on tv, enjoying my grandfathers punch (pineapple ice cream and ginger ale), Grandmother's brownies with a heavy dusting of powdered sugar to match the snow outside, and playing Rook. Generally we would use the same New Years eve hats and lei's that had been around since the late 80s, tape streamers to the ceiling of the basement, and play this card game, until New Years Eve occurred at 10pm.
However, in addition to playing Rook when my borthers and I were younger, we would also play some poker when we got older. Typically this was just 5 card and 7 card, as any other varieties got too complicated to play at that day and age.
For some reason, as time went on and my grandmother's disease progressed, she became obsessed with playing Monopoly on New Years Eve. However, this was quite recent and things just weren't what they were. Few people went over there to play (as people had New Years plans) and the games generally were stopped arbitrarily and the winner was calculated. Generally it was my grandmother, me and my brothers and my great-aunt. Usually after an hour or two one of them would get to feeling poorly and the game would end.
She always told us she played it growing up and, to be fair, when she was growing up, Monopoly was the newest thing in board games .
Between events like New Year's growing up and New Year's of the last year or two really highlight how much changed in relation to the memories I associate with my grandparents. Everything was more magical and innocent growing up (despite how cliche that sounds). Everyone got together to enjoy the time spent together and no one was worried about other things to do afterwards and my grandmother was actually happy and enjoying life rather than having an hour or two of good medical health in the early afternoon before descending back into the addled state that her disease and medicine brought with it.
My grandfather taught me chess. Usually, my grandfather didn't play too many games with us growing up. My memories of games played with him are Rook, Uno (spoiler alert), Poker, and Chess.
But, whenever I asked he would get out his Renaissance Chess Set or his Napoleon Chess set, sit down, and play with me. First teaching, than playing just to play.
However, in the last two years my grandfather has been getting rid as much in the house as he can. Partly because my grandmother couldn't really decorate anymore, and he personally didn't want to leave us, the family, a house full of things to deal with when they were gone. So, one of the things I grabbed was one of the chess sets while my oldest brother took the Napoleon Chess set.
Just a google pic as I couldn't find one in the chess gallery.
Usually in December we would go over to my great-grandmothers house for Christmas with that part of the family. After the meal we would sit around the kitchen table and play Uno for hours. A very 1950s house. That was about the only time we would see that part of the family.
Thought I would add abit about my paternal grandparents, who preceded my grandmother in death.
we went over to my grandparents on my father's side of the family every Sunday evening while growing up (I still remember the melancholy of leaving there each Sunday because I knew that announced another week of school)
While my memories are more of toys and cartoons than games, the one game I will always associate with them is Rummikub. Every Sunday evening after dinner they would always have this out to play on the kitchen table and I would always play, though I was pretty young at the time and I doubt I ever won.
They had all the vhs of the old fleisher cartoons, betty boop and casper and silly symphonies vs. mickey and/or looney toons. Not sure why. Anyway, still the source of in-jokes between my brothers and I (just listening to it as I make this list is making me laugh):
(this video should be called 'humpty dumpty is a dick')
So, while I have grown up since playing these games, I haven't grown out of gaming nor did I grow away from my grandparents. I still love them and, though things aren't what they once were, I still cherish the memories and all the life lessons and words of wisdom they passed onto me.
Sure, I've traded in roll and move for worker placement and hidden roles, but I would still go back to these games and play them any way.
I invite anyone else who wishes to reminisce about the games of yesteryear they played with loved ones.
"In the beginning, the Earth was without form, and void."
"O I know justice, it's a birthright if you're born right"
Above all other games, my Nan loved playing Scrabble. She wasn't that concerned about getting a high score. She just loved to get the letters out. She house-ruled that the game wouldn't end until all the tiles were out, or someone was well and truly stuck. I didn't know for a long time that tiles at the end scored you negative points. It was both an individual puzzle on her own letter rack, and a group puzzle for us at the end to get everyone's tiles out, if possible.
One year an auntie bought her a Scrabble dictionary for Christmas. While it was initially well received, she passed judgment on it before too long. There were too many "not words" in it. My wife and I would happily play by the official two letter word list at home, but when playing with Nan, we played by her rules. It wasn't really about the score anyway. It was about playing together.