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Adele R. Haas: Love, laughter abound on family game nights

February is the month of love. Since early January, the stores have encouraged us to buy cards and candy, or whatever, in the name of love. I was reminded recently of one of the best forms of love that so many retirees are privileged to give and receive, and it is family love – especially that of grandchild and grandparent.

Many of us are fortunate to remember that special relationship, which often consisted of warm hugs and cookies from someone who was always happy to see you. Even if you deserved to be in the doghouse at home, your grandparents loved you unconditionally, enthusiastically and proclaimed to your parents (who knew better) that you were perfect.

We are privileged to be grandparents, and recently spent an afternoon with our youngest grandson, who was home on break from Purdue University. He came over to play board games with us and relive “the fun times of his youth,” when we would be blessed with his company for an overnight or weekend visit.

Initially, when our grandsons were toddlers, we read to them. Then we advanced to playing blocks, Legos or board games. Since we had the time to spend the hours it took to play the longer board games, we always had fun.

We played the same vintage board games – the ones called “classics” – with our grandsons that we had played with our three children. Games such as Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Don’t Break the Ice, Monopoly, Sorry, Risk, Think Tank, Life, Stock Market or chess. Many of them still have price tags of $1.98 from Twin Fair or Brand Names. All pieces are present and accounted for – a house rule.

In their earlier years, I was known to be the “soft” one who would trade a property so they could get a monopoly. Or, acting as “the bank,” I would declare a quick dividend so they didn’t go broke early and get forced out.

What I eventually learned was that they preferred to play with their grandfather, who basically played to the death and took no prisoners. When they won, and eventually they did, they knew it was a pure victory.

We played word games and math-based games, and could see the progress the youngest one made. Although he initially couldn’t join in, with added age and maturity he gave the rest of us a run for our money.

Occasionally a piece of paper or pencil might be needed to play, but no batteries. Any noise during play came from the hooting and hollering of the players. A spirit of fair play was the only requirement.

Were there ever any troubles? Truthfully an occasional pout or “no fair” was heard. There would be a timeout, followed by the repentant child giving a reluctant “sorry.” But that was in the early days when the boys were still “good sports in training.”

This type of fun is dated, and as technology takes over it will seem even more quaint – more like the stick and rock our ancestors used. But the closeness, the fun and the love will never go out of style.

And so to our grandsons I say: “Thank you. You were not many, but you were perfect. Love, Gran.”

By the way, our oldest grandson recently passed the bar, our middle passed his CPA exams and our youngest is in his second year of engineering. They still love to play board games, with hoots and hollers, but no timeouts are needed.