Editorial: Thanksgiving Score-Keeping

In last year’s Thanksgiving editorial, we offered advice on cutting calories that even we had no chance of following. So this year we’re taking a more realistic approach and urging, simply, that you find time today to play a game.

Not watch a game, mind you, though with the Patriots meeting the Jets, many of us are certain to include TV time on the day’s schedule. And that’s fine. Football isn’t as central to the holiday as stuffing or cranberries, say, but it certainly sits as close to the center as sweet potatoes with marshmallows do.

We’re not talking about playing football, either. That was fine for the Kennedys, back in the day, but this is real life, not Camelot, and none of us wants to spend the evening in the emergency room with Uncle Ernie and his throbbing back. Taking a walk after dinner, that’s a great idea — but no football, unless it’s with kids under 10 and played at their speed.

What we’re talking about is a board or card game — new or old, it doesn’t matter, so long as it doesn’t involve a TV, smartphone, tablet or computer. Life, Candyland, Pop-O-Matic Trouble, Scrabble, Apples to Apples, The Settlers of Catan – you name it, just about any game will work for you. Aside from Chameleon Crunch, that is, which we spied on a toy store shelf. (A disturbing concept, Chameleon Crunch. Sounds like the rogue cousin of Cap’n Crunch, escaped from the supermarket.)

Prefer cards? How about something different, like Mille Bornes, the French car-racing game? Don’t let the fact that it’s unfamiliar stop you. We’d even go so far as to suggest that you choose a game you don’t know how to play. Here’s why: More than anything else, Thanksgiving is a day for being together, be it with friends or family. We may focus on the food, but it’s the companionship that really matters. And a good game is a companionship catalyst.

Why a game you don’t know? Because that creates the first catalytic challenge: figuring out the rules together. Talk about a game within the game. Who grabs the instruction book? (Our bet is Aunt Edith. Always wants to be in charge.) Who wants to start playing before the rules even get read? (That would be Ernie and Edith’s impatient son, Cousin Fast Eddie.) Once the cards start flying, the fun really begins.

Even more than a deep conversation, a good game reveals our inner selves. Who’s a bit too aggressive for their own good? (Right, that would be Brother Tony, whose catfish farm didn’t work out well, either.) Who’s too tentative? Who’s a deadly kind of James Bond quiet? You get the idea. A good Thanksgiving game break will be fun in its own right, and could yield family dynamic leftovers you’ll be chewing on happily for weeks to come.

That said, we’d also suggest limiting yourself to a game that can be played in no more than an hour. You do have a meal to eat, the Pats to watch, and that walk waiting after dinner. Enjoy the day, and enjoy your company.