‘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
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