I had one of those “what did you do when you were a child…?”, conversations. I was talking with a newly recruited nurse. She was from Spanish Tenerife and we were talking about Christmas. She was explaining that as children they were not given their Christmas presents until January the 6th, said to be the day that the three wise men arrived bearing their gifts to the birth place of Jesus in Bethlehem. This giving of present of known as ‘Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages’.
I was interested in what they did in the time between Christmas Eve and January the sixth. “We played games” she said. A tale unfolded of the various games the family would play together. She explained the importance of family and family values in their tradition and how people would travel for miles to bring gifts and make visits. She talked with starry eyes about the gatherings of the extended family. Then she told me about how much she missed it all. That got me thinking about our families and how this year, with restricted access, just how much fun there will be and how we will be able to play games. How many family get togethers this year will be online. Can you play family Christmas games online?
There were three types of games those that are played with the adults, those that are exclusively for children and those that span the ages. The thing that struck me looking back was how much we did actually play and interact with each other at Christmas. Now we often have the virtual game that means we are interacting with a screen and not a person. So maybe for many younger people a lockdown Christmas will be fine as long as there are games consoles and people online to play with.
Anyway, all this got me thinking about the games that we played and how simple they were but also how we rolled around laughing our heads off. All of these games might seem ridiculous to children today but, maybe some game time at Christmas could be good for us all. It is a way of letting off steam and family bonding and maybe some of these would be played over Zoom, FaceTime etc. Here are some of the mad things that we would play as kids…
The Laughing Game
Aim: Try not to laugh
1. All players sit in a circle
2. Each player takes it in turns to say “Ha”, “Ho” or “Hee”.
3. The first player to start laughing loses and is out of the game.
4. Continue until everyone is out of the game.
5. The person who manages not to laugh for the longest is the winner.
I have attended laughter workshops since and they do work just as this game does. The reality for was that we never got to the end because we would all end up laughing until the tears rolled down our faces.
There were two games when we were blindfolded, which was something I found a bit scary. I am not sure that these could be played online?
Blind Man’s Buff
A blindfold player tries to catch others while being pushed about by them.
Squeak Piggy Squeak
Everyone sits as quietly as possible. The blindfolded person sits on someone’s lap and says “squeak piggy squeak” where upon they squeak and the blindfolded person tries to guess who they are.
There were loads of card games from Snap to Rummy and Chase the Ace. I think I will get a pack of cards for Christmas and see if we can get some games going. These can all be played online.
Board games like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Cluedo, and for the more serious Drafts and Chess can all be played online.
Ed likes this one and it can definitely be played online. In his version an adult brings in a tray with various objects on it. These have to be memorised by the players. The adult leaves the room and removes on object from the tray and brings the tray back into the room. The players have to guess what is missing.
Acting out games
Things like Charades, when people have to guess what you are acting out, were always very funny and sometimes mind boggling. This is a definite online game. There are variations on this theme now when people do things like you have a label stuck on your forehead that you can’t see while everyone else has to act out whatever is in the label until you guess what it is. This could be done online if everyone can see the label except for the person who is doing the guessing.
Again a good online game. When we got older we played some talking games such as Limericks. The first person would start the Limerick “There once was a lady from …..” the next person would provide the next line, and so on, until we got to the end. These were usually very funny and often very rude.
Running about games will probably not be allowed this year unless we can get outside with good social distancing. This year perhaps even going for a walk together will be fun.
At this time of year it makes me think about how we do not do as much together as we once did and the importance of building family and maintaining family relationships and friendships through simple interaction. Covid has robbed so many people of the simple daily interaction that gave life purpose and meaning. Playing games gives us a good chance, and opportunity to just have fun and be silly and be together.
Whether you are celebrating Christmas, the winter solstice, or just creating some light in the dark depth of winter make it fun, play and enjoy it even if it is online.