It really is all fun and games

Categorized as 01/05/09 Goshen News column

Isn’t family wonderful? Spending time over the holidays with your relatives can remind you of just how normal you really are. It’s quite reassuring in a dysfunctional way.

The Yoders, my half of the equation, are huge game players. Christmas night found us gathered around Mom and Dad’s dining room table, hooting and hollering over a game of Balderdash.

This game, if you’ve not played it, certainly fosters creativity, which is a gift the Yoders have in spades. It’s sort of a guessing game with five different categories, including among others, weird words and laughable laws.

Let’s say you draw the weird words category and your word is “pipsissewa.” Since you hold the card, you alone know what it means, and you write the real definition on a slip of paper. Everyone else is clueless. They have no idea if “pipsissewa” is something you do or something you are. Can you “pipsissewa” or do you get “pipsissewaed?” Maybe it’s an herb or a scary medical procedure involving large needles and no anesthesia.

The other players make up a definition and write it down. These are all read off with the actual definition mixed in. The goal is to earn points by guessing the right answer, as well as to trick others into voting for yours. It’s harder than you think.

In the laughable laws category, one of our favorites was this: “In Seattle, Washington, when riding a city bus, a goldfish must…” and here you fill in the blank. One of our number said, “must be dead prior to departure,” while someone else wrote “must be looking at its owner.” This prompted gales of laughter at the thought of a little old lady with dentures hunched over a fish bowl saying anxiously, “Look at mama, Goldy. Look at mama!”

One of the highlights of the week was the first cousin party on Friday night. Cousins from Ohio to Indiana to Kansas City and Hutchinson gathered to reconnect while the next generation also renewed acquaintances. Once again, the place was rocking at game time when we played a family favorite, Occupations.

We’ve discovered that you don’t have to go high tech to have a blast. Some of the best games are really very low tech, which is precisely the case with this one. All it takes is a bit of paper, a pen, and a good imagination.

The rules are simple. Just write down an occupation, credible or otherwise, on a slip of paper and hand it in. Then you set about trying to guess what each person is.

We had some doozies this time. If prayerfully seeking the Lord’s will before choosing a vocation is the acid test of spirituality, then this bunch is skating on thin ice. Does God really call anyone to be a professional pooper scooper? Uncle Paul must think so, because that’s what he was (at least on paper) during one round. (Jack Hanna, call him. He carries a mean shovel.)

We had Inspector 13 at the Fruit of the Loom factory. I suppose you could be a godly inspector, sure. It certainly beats being employed as a sniffer there.

There was a drama queen (Aunt Bertie), and it hurt my feelings when someone guessed me. My brother was a muck boots model while our oldest son claimed to be a welfare recipient. It was entirely fitting, then, that Cousin Andrea felt called to be a professional phone counselor. This family needs it!

Imagine our surprise when Cousin Holly turned out to be John the Baptist’s locust butcher. Someone else was an ear hair groomer. Yours truly was first a meter maid and then the village idiot. It was downright unnerving to have that last one guessed so fast.

We have played this game with the Schrocks as well, and they’re no slouches in the creativity department. Mr. Schrock himself has been a pastel color organizer and a sunny disposition giver while his sister was an Elvis impersonator. A nephew was once a pillow stuffer (well, someone has to do it) while his cousin said he was “the founder of”

His brothers have had some colorful careers, too, with one claiming to be the town drunk and the other one being a figure skater. Seeing that the latter was born to be an NFL linebacker, this was quite unexpected. Being the supportive family that we are, though, we simply said, “Hey, whatever figure you’ve got, you just skate that around. Reach for the stars! Oh, and can you hitch up those tights?”

While it’s doubtful that any of these so-called careers would be resume enhancers, it’s certainly a lot of fun seeing what kind of potential is gathered around the table at these family functions. I think I saw a few damp eyes among the parents that were watching. I couldn’t tell if it was pride or dismay. At any rate, I feel more normal than I have in a long time, but that may not be saying much.

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