Because the age difference from me to my younger siblings was pretty wide, we had to accommodate everyone’s abilities. So we typically had several board games in the house to choose from, most of them with most of their original pieces. We started with CandyLand when we were small, went through a Life phase and a Clue phase, and on to Risk and other more strategic games.
By the time my youngest brother was in junior high, Trivial Pursuit was the rage. I was married by then, and my husband and I joined my parents and younger siblings for Christmas the year that Trivial Pursuit was our game of choice.
That fall my brother had spent hours memorizing the answers on the Trivial Pursuit cards. He may have been the youngest by several years, but he wasn’t going to let his relative inexperience disadvantage him when it came to the scoring. He had inherited the family competitiveness gene.
My husband watched my siblings and me play with a bemused expression on his face as we argued about the appropriateness and adequacy of a particular answer. He’d done debate in high school. He was a lawyer. Didn’t he understand competitive posturing? Going for the jugular?
My husband is a bright guy, and very knowledgeable about military history, so he could hold his own at Trivial Pursuit. He was never enamored of my family’s penchant for games, but he kept up and didn’t embarrass me.
My sister was in high school that year and had a boyfriend. The boyfriend was of Greek descent, so I’ll just call him “Adonis.” (He was kind of cute, with a typically Greek nose like you see in museums and curly blond hair.)
Adonis was a likeable guy and very sweet to my sister. But after watching Adonis participate in a round of Trivial Pursuit one afternoon, my husband declared to me, “It’ll never last.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Adonis,” he said. “He’ll never last.”
“He can’t play games.”
It was true. Adonis had lost miserably that day. It hadn’t seemed to bother him. But he was dumb as a post about most of the categories on the board. My sister hadn’t dropped her competitive demeanor as they played and had left him in the dust.
He didn’t last. My sister later married a guy with much quicker wits.
What have you learned about family members during holiday get-togethers?