Moore: A Holiday Monopoly | Opinion
People used to drive up the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house each holiday season to give thanks, eat, visit, and play games.
Playing games with family members you rarely see outside of Christmas gave you a chance to remember why you only see them during the holidays.
A marathon game of Monopoly with your half-deaf uncle and your cousin who eats Cheetos and wants to be the banker reminds you how good you have it. Even if you think you don’t have it so well.
I don’t know where it says that after committing one of the seven deadly sins (gluttony) you have to put together a puzzle with your great aunt, but of course it’s mandatory.
Because it was like that every year.
Maybe it was because we only had three channels to watch on TV. Of course, even if we had the endless amount of things to watch that we have today, our grandfather would never have allowed anything other than football to be shown.
There was coach Tom Landry on the sidelines in his crisp, tailored suit and stylish hat. More often than not, he calmly led the Cowboys to victory. Those of us who played a board game occasionally watched the game from the kitchen table.
This is where we most often played games. The Formica dinette set was perfect for this. The slick top allowed me to neatly stack my cash and title deeds, only for that Cheeto-eating banker cousin to drive the token car over my stuff and mess it up.
An argument ensued and the uncle said, “What did you say?
Small children were on the ground nearby playing Operation. As the Monopoly players tried to get into the poor house, the little kids practiced removing someone’s spleen and funny bone.
Over the years, I once suggested we switch to the game called Risk. World domination was better than putting people in the poor house, but I was rejected.
If I could have taken over the world, I would have banned bankers who eat Cheetos.
If you get tired of playing Monopoly, you can recruit a younger cousin to take your place. There was always a kid who wanted to play with the big kids, but was turned down. He was standing next to the Monopoly table, watching the whole time. I could usually excuse myself and whisper to him to take my place.
Before the others realized I wasn’t coming back, the kid had already taken Boardwalk and Park Place.
“Who let this kid play? said the uncle.
I slid to the puzzle, only to find that the great aunt had been working on the same puzzle for the previous three Christmases. The lid of the box with the photo was missing, along with an unidentified number of puzzle pieces.
Word was that Cheeto’s eating banker cousin had put his mitts on it. According to unsubstantiated reports, the puzzle could be an image of a church in a meadow or a basket full of cats. Nobody was sure.
As they got older, the more cerebral members of the family decided to play Scrabble.
“I know a lot of words,” said the half-deaf uncle.
“Me too,” said another uncle on television.
I think we interrupted the game.
“I’m pretty sure ‘flipple’ isn’t a word,” someone said.
“Yes, that’s it,” replied a cousin.
“What does it mean?” Was the answer.
From there, a challenge ensued. But the replacement kid at the Monopoly table was sitting on the dictionary, so we accepted flipple and moved on.
The Scrabble game went downhill from there, so I headed to the game.
Today, people travel hundreds of miles to visit family and then bury their heads in their phones during the week.
Board games have been replaced by online games. In fact, last Christmas Day, I received a notification from Words With Friends (a Scrabble-like online game) that it was my 12th birthday of joining the game.
I thought about that.
My anniversary with Words With Friends is longer than my time with the ex. Words With Friends has been a much closer relationship. The game allows me to insert a word, gives me points and sometimes even tells me that I have won.
This is not something that happened in the days of holiday board games with families. Monopoly never seemed to end with a winner, the puzzle fell apart, Scrabble was filled with flipple, and the guy who operated never made it.
The only winners seemed to be the creators of Cheetos.
John’s new book, Puns for Groan People, and his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on its website – TheCountryWriter.comwhere you can also message her and listen to her weekly podcast.