Games we play | Two Decades of Kids and Counting | Sally Torbey | Palo Alto Online |

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By Sally Torbey

Games we play

Uploaded: Dec 6, 2015

One of the things I look forward to most about the holidays is having a critical mass of folks around for family game nights. Whether it is a raucous round of late night Hearts, or lobbying for our preferences in Who knew?, memories are made.
Over Thanksgiving we played our traditional game of pre-turkey football. Since my husband (and a guest) did not grow up in this country, and were deprived of a childhood watching Monday night football, and because some of our offspring would have refused to watch Monday night football even if we had not deprived them of TV as children, the most important rule of our Thanksgiving football game is “Ignorance of the rules is no excuse.” Despite varying levels of interest and knowledge, no one is exempt from playing, and you can’t whine about losing because of confusion over where and what the line of scrimmage is. This year a game highlight (as least for me) was a pass that bounced off the fingertips of my teammate and two defensive players, and then landed squarely in my hands. No one was more surprised than I was. And, because I happened to be standing in the correct end zone at the time, I scored a touchdown. My Dad would have commented, “Who needs talent when you have luck?”
Our other favorite game, which I believe my Dad invented because I don’t know anyone else who plays this game quite like we do, is a game we call Murder. It is best played during the winter months when darkness comes early because we turn off ALL the lights and stumble around in the pitch black waiting for the lucky person who drew the ace of spades to sneak up on someone and “kill” them. Three taps on the shoulder is the sign to count to ten, fall to the ground, and hope whoever finds you does not trip on your head. Then we turn on the lights and figure out who murdered whom. Depending on how accomplished and experienced a group of players we have, we also designate a thief who must steal coins out of boxes placed around the house, an accomplice who is in cahoots with the murderer, and sometimes even two murderers who compete to complete the task. It sounds morbid but is suspenseful and hilarious. One memorable evening parents of our eldest daughter’s friend arrived a little too early and were cajoled into joining the last round. This quiet, reserved couple, who appeared confused by the game and very reluctant to participate, shocked (and impressed!) us all by conspiring to commit a flawless and undetected murder while appearing completely innocent. Not a single one of us suspected them. Games get us acquainted in an entirely different way!