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We never really had family game night when I was younger. Yes, we played the odd game, but it wasn't a full-family occasion. My family has always been close, and with my siblings and I getting older, and myself moving out to go to school, we've become even more tight-knit. It started with quick games of Scrabble after dinner or, every once in a while, playing a game we dug up from the basement or something I was gifted at a birthday party or at Easter or Christmas with our extended family. Now, family game night is common in our household. We all gather around the kitchen table with snacks and drinks and play our favourites: Monopoly, Life, Clue, and my new personal favourite, Bob Ross: Art of Chill.
I love family game night because it isn't about the games. It's about the warmth and laughter, the way it feels to look up and see my whole family gathered around the table, joking with each other, egging each other on, competing, and breaking off into teams.
Don't get me wrong, the games are definitely still a big deal. We're a competitive bunch, and games like Monopoly definitely bring out that side in us. We make deals and fight tooth and nail to get more properties, more money, and just to stay in the game for one more turn, hoping to catch our lucky break.
But there's something fundamentally important about these game nights that wasn't there before.
I'm 19 now. When I was a kid, I always had enough time. Enough time to play games, to become a published writer, to achieve everything I set out to accomplish. Now, as I'm reaching the end of my teenage years, it feels like there's never enough time. I'm only 19, but I feel like I'm running out of time. There's the constant mantra of work, work, work running through my head. If I'm not writing, I'm reading, doing homework, going to rehearsal, or getting to that next appointment or meeting.
Game night is an opportunity for me to slow down and take in everything I already have. I spend all of my weekdays rushing crazily from place to place, and I get the chance to text a quick "I love you" to my parents on my walk to the bus stop or between classes. Our weekend game nights provide me with the much-needed escape from my busy schedule, and a chance to show my family how much they mean to me.
My sister and I spent an entire afternoon shopping for board games the other day. We went to every single store in the mall that had them, showing each other different games, laughing at descriptions, and trying to guess which games would be the favourites of our family members. It was one of the best days I've had this year.
As I sit here writing this, I've just finished spending another night at the kitchen table with my family, laughing, joking, drinking, and just talking. Taking the time to catch up on each other's lives and checking in on how everyone is doing. I'm filled with a sense of joy and relaxation as I look back on the time I just spent with everybody. Already, we've started making plans for the next game night: Games we'll play, who's coming over to play with us, and what we'll eat and drink.
I'm still filled with a sense of urgency. There are so many things I want to complete, and so little time. But for one night a week, I'm able to slow down, catch my breath, and spend some time with the people I love most in this world. Tonight, hug your loved ones for me, and challenge them to a game of Monopoly.