Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The unavoidable numbers games February 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:22 PM
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A variety of games are available to play during the monthly Family Game Night at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault. On this Saturday in February, three separate tables of gamers play Sequence, Buzz Word and Settlers of Catan.

I SPOT THE PLAYING cards and poker chips and instantly veer from the table. They laugh, knowing anything involving numbers drives me away.

“It’s not math,” they try to explain. “It’s like Connect Four.” I will hear none of it. I threaten to overturn their table because this looks like gambling to me and we are in church.

But they are playing Sequence, nothing like the money mongering in the temple.

This is Family Game Night, a monthly gathering in the Trinity Lutheran Church fellowship hall of friends who play board games and talk and laugh and eat.

Those who attend game night bring snacks to share.

This February night, just days before Valentine’s Day, we are treated to heart-shaped sugar cookies Tammy and her daughter Hannah baked, frosted and sprinkled with sugar. I tell them how I, too, once made cut-out heart cookies every Valentine’s Day. But now my girls are all grown up and gone and I don’t’ bake much any more because the guys in the house don’t crave sweets and I do and I don’t need them, the sweets that is.

Billie Jo's decadent brownies.

Tonight, though, I indulge in the sugary treats—the heart-shaped raspberry cake and the brownies with the decadent caramel, M & M and marshmallow toppings. And then, to balance the unhealthy overload, I sample Mandy’s “healthy brownies,” if brownies can be healthy, and grab a baby carrot.

Between bites, I play Buzz Word, shouting out words in response to a clue along with my two senior team members, senior meaning those over age 50. The juniors—41 and under—although numbering only two, beat us each round.

My favorite games involve words, not numbers. No surprise there.

Winning matters not as much as the company of friends, in the savoring of moments like Billie Jo’s 4-year-old swooping into the room with a valentine he’s made for her. Later his sister arrives with a second delivery. I wonder out loud to my friend if the kids, tucked into the nursery with a babysitter, are making valentines for all of us. They aren’t.

I remember, earlier in the day, going through drawers in a desk at home and finding red valentine hearts colored by my own daughters at the same age.

Still later, when we sing happy birthday to Jesse, I remember what it was like to turn 40 and wonder why turning that age bothered me so much now that I am creeping toward 60.

On this Saturday Family Game Night, even though I’ve tried as I always do, I can’t avoid numbers.

The group of regulars who prefer strategy games played Settlers of Catan on Saturday night. I avoid strategy games, that also require a great deal of thinking and concentration, just like I avoid number/mathematical games.

DO YOU PLAY board games? What are your favorites (or not so favorites) and why?

(P.S. Dear readers, please pretend this post was published before Valentine’s Day.)

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling