The other day, I came across this article in the Star Tribune by New York Times writer Damien Cave entitled, "Poll finds were living on less and experiencing more in life."  I read through it and thought, "Well, this is nothing new for me.  This is what I learned from my parents."

If you think about your warm memories, chances are they involve other people and you were doing something.  After my parent's divorce, life was tough for my family.  The one thing my mom did was to always give us a gift that "kept on giving".  For awhile, our Christmas gift was a family membership to the Science Museum of Minnesota.  We'd all pile in the car and head from Owatonna up to St. Paul.  We saw every IMAX movie that came out during those years of our memberships - I still remember getting nauseous during one of my favorite movies "To Fly". We knew the best place to sit at the Omni Theater to get the exact right vantage point for the movies. What marvelous times!

4GenerationsWe also did things like go and visit our cousins and grandparents.  When we were younger my dad would pile us all into the car and just start driving.  We'd get to an intersection and he'd ask us which way we wanted to go and we got to pick!  Somehow, we still ended up at Aunt Bea's house or at some other relatives house but we felt like we were in control!  Yes, there were many games of counting cows, finding letters on signs, making up words out of the letters on license plates and LOTS of singing!

We didn't go on a lot of expensive family vacations but we sure did a lot of camping!  My father was involved in scuba diving so I have so many memories of lakes growing up - Superior, Grindstone...we also did a lot of fishing with cane poles on rented pontoon boats.  I remember one weekend we were surprised with a mystery trip.  "Just pack some stuff and get in the car!" my dad said.  We ended up in the Wisconsin Dells!  Now, mind you - this was back in the early 70's so no big waterparks yet!  I remember the Ducks, the ski show and LOTS OF PANCAKES!

Playing games and cards with my Grandma Powell was one of my favorite things to do when I visited.  On my mom's side of the family I don't think we have EVER had a gathering where we didn't play at least one card game!  Sure, we played outside too but it was spending that intergenerational time with kids and adults that I remember most.  I guess this is why I'm so connected to playing board and card games with others.Grandparents

I love that playing cards and board games is one activity you can do with any kind of group you have.  And, there are so many choices that you can find something that your group can agree on!  If you have a deck of cards - look out!  This is probably why I'm most attracted to games that groups can play. I like playing almost any kind of game but when someone wants me to recommend a game to them I generally start with games that a large group can play together that will cause laughter and conversation.

Or sometimes, you just need to put a game in front of someone and start playing.  I find that this is true for some video players!  At a recent game party I had some young boys, around 10 or 11, who had brought their laptop and were disappointed that there was no internet so they could play their games on the computer.  So, I sized them up and brought over Blokus - a very easy strategy game for up to 4 players.  I recruited a younger boy and then showed them the game.  They quickly caught on and then I asked another adult to take my spot to finish up the game.  Those boys were playing games the rest of the night.

cutenadineYou don't have to spend a lot on games.  You don't have to spend anything on games if you find a local game group or check with your friends!  Or, stop by your game store and see if they have game nights.  Many libraries are also starting game groups or having times when you can go and play games.  Go to your local thrift store and see what is on their shelves.

So - go play!