In my childhood kitchen, there was a wall of shelves. And on the shelves were games.
The kitchen had the essentials, too. A fridge covered with fingerprints, filled with spinach and orange juice. A toaster with a timer that tick-tick-tick-dinged. Cabinets of salt and olive oil and multivitamins.
But the games had a whole wall. Clue (Junior, Regular, and Master Detective). Go to the Head of the Class. Risk, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit. Plus two cabinets of playing cards, a set of poker chips, and your smaller games: Mastermind, Uno, Mancala.
It was all this playfulness in plain sight.
Not every night, but many, we ate ice cream and played together around the table after dinner. Breyer’s mint chocolate chip with Railroad Rummy or Boggle. Or Scattergories if it wasn’t a school night.
Once we started a game, we didn’t play so much for the end, for the wins and the losses. We played for the middles. And the chutzpah and imagination and mischief that made the night a raucous and joyous type thing.
“Oh, wow!” first-time visitors would usually stare wide-eyed at the wall of games. “What a collection.”
“Yup, yup,” I’d say. It was all just run-of-the-mill for me: this shelf for olive oil, that shelf for Monopoly.
And it was run-of-the-mill because my parents decided that being playful was important in life. Essential like a fridge and a toaster. And that to be whole people, we needed to have spinach and multivitamins and a playful spirit in us.
So, life, not every night, but many, was salt in the cabinet. Dings from the toaster. And joyous type things around the table.