BY LAUREN CALCUTT
HIGHGATE GREENS — I love the morning after Christmas. I am the only one awake and can reflect on the previous day’s festivities. This was a particularly special year because we were blessed to have four generations together for the first time. With aging parents, the years of having this fortune are dwindling, so I am feeling especially nostalgic. I am trying to catalogue my memories and define what makes certain times everlasting.
I remember about 15 years ago when my daughter first played Battleship at her cousin’s house on Thanksgiving. On the car ride home, she added it to her Christmas list. My husband, our family’s tech guru, sought out the best online Battleship game possible. He was sure the speedy random placement of the ships and lifelike cannon sounds would be so much better than the old-fashioned game. Three games could be played in the time of one.
After a game or two, my daughter announced it wasn’t as much fun. Making the shooting noises verbally and removing one’s ship by hand made the game much more enjoyable. I don’t remember much about the online game, but I can still see her little hands on that game board and hear her imitation of cannon sounds when we succumbed and bought the real game.
I recently found my old backgammon game buried in a closet. During my college years, everyone had their handy, attaché type game to play between classes or during lunch. I found an online version and used it to teach my now college-aged daughter to play. It was so quick to not have to set up the pieces and roll the dice without needing a large area. Again, it was no fun. Physically moving my own pieces, blowing on and rolling the dice by hand, and actually picking up her pieces to send them back made all the difference.
Don’t get me wrong. I am strongly in favor of technology. I am a loyal Amazon Prime shopper, spend too much time on Facebook, and admittedly play solitaire on the computer. Alone. I think that is the key. Playing a game with another person involves much more than just taking one’s turn. There’s something about the hands, sound, and the touch.
I have a drawing and coloring application on my tablet. I downloaded the app for my granddaughter. It’s cute. You can “color” preloaded pages with your fingers. You can change colors with a quick tap. You can even undo and erase with a finger touch. The best part is that all of your coloring goes in the lines. No mess to clean up and no broken crayons.
My husband and I recently began weekly breakfast dates with our granddaughter. I decided to try some old fashioned crayons, markers, and coloring books. We love to hear her groan when the white and light colored crayons won’t work in spite of her attempts to press really hard. She and Pappy have a great game where she repeatedly hands him markers when she doesn’t have the patience or coordination to put the tops back on.
I wouldn’t trade her scribbled coloring pages for all of the techy art outputs available. When I think back on each visit, I see her little hands coloring and hear her sweet “oh no” each time a crayon drops on the floor.
When I reminisce about my own children’s game days, I don’t recall who won or lost or how many games we completed. I remember laughing while they learned to shuffle cards and helping as they added up scores using paper and pencil. I hear Yahtzee dice rattling around in the little cup. I remember them counting fake paper money. I still vividly picture the contrast of arthritic grandparents’ hands and little toddler hands pushing new Matchbox cars on Christmas evenings. And many years later, amid a game of charades, I welcomed a new hand glittering with an engagement ring given by that former toddler.
This is not about family game night, kids playing outside, the lost art of face to face conversation. It’s about making sure we don’t overlook that physical aspect of life. As I get older, I forget the insignificant things. For each piece of trivia that I lose, I want to replace it with a meaningful memory, the kind that is so real it can almost be touched.
Calcutt retired this past year after teaching for 33 years in Virginia Beach schools.
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