‘Play­ing games causes hi­lar­ity, fam­ily bond­ing and re­crim­i­na­tions in equal mea­sure’

There’s no slump­ing in front of Christ­mas TV for So­phie Kin­sella’s fam­ily when there’s cha­rades to play

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Shared Experiences -

Christ­mas car­ols, a fire crack­ling and some­one shriek­ing, ‘That’s so un­fair! I HATE you!’ as they land on Park Lane for the sev­enth time. Ah, the merry sounds of Christ­mas.

For my fam­ily, Christ­mas isn’t Christ­mas with­out games. It’s when you get out the an­cient Risk set, puzzle over Scrab­ble, and act out Avatar with a pa­per hat fall­ing off your head and a Bai­leys in your hand.

When I was a child, it was all about Mo­nop­oly. I loved the lit­tle houses, the stacks of money, the shop­ping, the drama of to­tal wipe­out… (Hmm. Was it those early games of Mo­nop­oly that led me to write a book about shop­ping?)

Then, one Christ­mas, we were given Cluedo. My two sis­ters and I are im­pa­tient types and couldn’t be both­ered to read the in­struc­tions, so we cut to the chase. One of us chose the mur­derer, the room and the weapon. Rather than shake the dice (bor­ing), we just guessed in turn un­til some­one won. We’ve never played it any other way.

Now that I’m a mother of five, games are even more es­sen­tial to Christ­mas, caus­ing

hi­lar­ity, fam­ily bond­ing and re­crim­i­na­tions. Pic­tionary is the worst for re­crim­i­na­tions. When you’re draw­ing, ev­ery­one on your team is clearly an id­iot. We’re not meant to talk, so we make im­pas­sioned ‘Mmmm!’ sounds, flail­ing our arms and point­ing at our draw­ing in frus­tra­tion. My father gets out­raged when peo­ple can’t un­der­stand his draw­ing of, say, a light­bulb and in­sists on a post-mortem af­ter­wards, jab­bing at it with his pen: ‘This is ob­vi­ously the filament

– are you blind?’

My hus­band, oth­er­wise a man of prin­ci­ple, has no scru­ples about cheat­ing at Pic­tionary. ‘Chair­lift,’ he’ll mut­ter, then scratch his nose in­no­cently while his team yells, ‘Chair­lift!’

But none of this is as bad as the fam­ily mem­ber – who shall re­main name­less – who, while pick­ing Scrab­ble let­ters in ap­par­ent in­no­cence, came up with ‘py­ja­mas’ as their first word, and claimed it was to­tally ran­dom (yeah, right.) Or the time Cra­nium ended with kids fir­ing balls of clay at each other in fury – then, when they ran out of clay, balls of Christ­mas pud­ding. (‘It’s pretty much the same as clay,’ said one son, in his defence.)

The best game is cha­rades. We can’t go a Christ­mas with­out my el­dest son fly­ing through the air and land­ing on the sofa as Su­per­man. He first did it when he was eight and has per­formed the feat ev­ery Christ­mas since, even though he’s now 6ft 2in and needs the whole sofa to land on.

I’m al­ready look­ing for­ward to this year’s games… and search­ing for a safe place to hide the Christ­mas pud­ding. ✴ by So­phie Kin­sella (Black Swan) will be out in Fe­bru­ary 2019

I Owe You One

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