Because I’ve broken almost everything I’ve ever owned, when I receive an expensive gift, I’m equal parts grateful and terrified. I feel like I’m inviting catastrophe just opening up a Christmas gift that comes in a fancy box.
This year my three favorite gifts have been simple games: two are sets of dice and the third is basically a bunch of wooden blocks. I am hopeful that I will not break these, but no guarantees – check in with me in six weeks.
The first set of dice is a game of arithmetic and chance. The other set of dice guides a round-table of story-building, and the blocks are a spatial reasoning race. All the games are a blast, and none requires reading, so I can play them with just about anyone I know.
My family has been playing at least one of these every day since Christmas, and as we laugh and conjure up excessive dramatics, I think of the other people I know who I would love to play this or that game with.
Is it odd that these are my favorite gifts? They were really inexpensive, so much so that if I gave one to a family member I’d wonder if I spent enough to show I care. The dice and blocks don’t look cool, and they don’t do anything.
Instead, they give me and my people something to do.
We get to choose to play together. It’s an opportunity for connection, to stop all the managing and pursuing and consuming we all get caught up in day-to-day, and to simply enjoy one another. The dice bring a chance for laughter and merrymaking, for joy and satisfaction that is not tied to any obligation or accomplishment. When we play, I’m reminded that the greatest gifts in life are relationships – friends, neighbors, family.
That’s the kind of reminder I should keep letting into my days.