Board not bored

blogimg_8870-2At our house when the family all gathers for a holiday dinner, there’s no cause for boredom. Even if the turkey makes you over-stuffed and sleepy, there will be no naps taken.

That’s because when we all congregate around the table for good food, good fellowship, and good times, you can be sure a few good board games will follow. 

Not bored games. Oh, no! Not at our house. Our family really gets into games; it’s just how we roll (pun intended).

This past Thanksgiving, we hurriedly cleaned up the dishes, put away the leftovers, and plunked ourselves down at the dining room table for some serious game playing. First, we HAD to try playing middle daughter’s new Oregon Trail card game.

All of Mama and Papa’s children spent many hours playing that computer game back when they were young’uns. They especially liked it because we had followed the Oregon Trail ourselves by moving from the Kansas City area to Oregon. 

And years later, we actually visited some sites along the trail in Oregon and Nebraska during our trek cross country as we relocated from Oregon to our home here in Pennsylvania.

So over Thanksgiving, we tried….and we tried…and we tried….to make our way successfully on the game trail from Independence, Missouri to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  

We used our supply cards of medicine, food, clothing, spare wagon parts, laid down our trail cards, forded many rivers, but along the way, we succumbed to the usual – snake bites, cholera, dysentery, drowning. Yep, one calamity after another.

Some of us ‘died’ early in the game, some unfairly just as the end of the trail was in sight. We laughed and we groaned and we worked together as a family team to try to beat the trail game’s hardships.  

And the Oregon Trail kicked our butts. Out of several games played, we only arrived at trail’s end one time and, if truth be told, we only did so because we didn’t quite stick to the rules of the game.

Along the way, we chose some 19th century names like Jedidiah, Hortense, Zeke, Eliza, and the like.  As each of us surrendered to the lethal skull card of death, we had to write epitaphs on the grave markers provided with the game.  We tried to be as silly and clever as we could be.

I’ll share a few examples with you: 

“Cholera called, he answered.”

“She got the cold shoulder.” (froze to death)

“Dysentery – now she’s in dys-cemetery.”

“Fangs for the memories.” (snake bite)

“She was dys close to Oregon.” (dysentery)

“This bites!” (snake bite)

“She went for broke.” (broken wagon axle)

“It kicked her grass.” (no grass for oxen, everyone died)

From that crazy game, we moved on to one of our favorites – Settlers of Catan.  Our oldest daughter and son-in-law introduced this game to us a couple of years ago and we’ve been hooked ever since.  And a ‘newbie’ at the game – my neice – won this time!

Games aren’t for everyone. I think whether or not you enjoy playing games depends on your background.

When I was growing up, one of the ways my family had fun together was playing games whether it was a board game, a card game, an outdoor game, or even just putting a massive jigsaw puzzle together.

Life is difficult enough – just read about the original Oregon Trail trekkers and your life might seem like a piece of cake – so why not spend a few hours playing?

What better way to spend time together as a family than gathered around the table focusing on one enjoyable activity? None, if you ask our family.

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” ~ Michael Jordan



8 responses

  1. My youngest son and daughter-in-law are BIG into board games. They bought a ‘dining room set’ for their apartment just so they’d have a table big enough for regular gaming nights with their friends. I’m definitely going to get them the Oregon Trail board game (I remember that one very clearly from their primary school days!) and I’ll also check out Settlers of Catan for them. My (second) husband isn’t much into games but I have fond memories of playing everything from Candyland and Sorry to Clue and Monopoly and a couple of versions of Trivial Pursuit (I was best at the Disney version!) when the boys were young. Game nights were a lot of fun. Thanks for bringing back those memories.


    • As a kid, I played games a lot with my neighbor friends too. My best friend had a closet full of games in her parents’ recreation room. I always thought that was so neat!! Our kids have been known to have game nights with their friends too. Lots of fun. Hope yours like Oregon Trail and Settlers of Catan.


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