A moment is worth a thousand words

Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots

This week, I challenge you to mark your phone as off limits. Instead, the next time you reach to take a photograph, pull out your trusty notebook, open your favorite note-taking tool, or fire up the WordPress app.  Rather than giving into the urge to take a picture, write down your impressions of the scene. Who’s around? How does the air feel? What sounds do you hear? What emotions are you experiencing?

You’d think that after writing this, I would have no trouble meeting the requirements for this week’s challenge.

You’d think that putting down the camera and just being in the moment would come easily to me.

I’d think that, if I were you.

But we’d all be wrong.

In my defence, I did say that I was just as guilty as the next person of snapping away, of cutting myself off from the event or scene or people I was photographing in my effort to get that one great shot. To capture the memory forever.

But I also said I would try to rise to the challenge. I said I would try to come out from behind the camera, put it down, and join in the moment.

It’s not always that easy. Even if it’s the simplest moment or a part of the every day.

Monday night, for example, I had to forcibly restrain myself from taking a picture and posting it on Facebook.

It wasn’t anything momentous but there was a something in the air, perhaps it was the lighting or the mood, and it transformed the ordinary into something worth capturing.

I did manage to successfully fight the urge to take that picture, though, and instead I jotted down some notes which turned into this post.

So I did capture it, just not with a camera. Mission accomplished.

It was our family’s second Games Night, a new tradition we started just last week. The first week, we played Mousetrap. It was new to us and we had fun. Yesterday, however, we pulled out the tried and true Monopoly.

Monopoly was my favourite game when I was a kid – though I knew many people who not-so-affectionately referred to it as Monotony. My son, my clone in so many ways, is like I was. He loves it and he’s good at it. We’ve actually only played it together once or twice but he was hooked from the beginning and has, I understand, played it numerous other times at school and at his after school program.

Why does he love it so much? Probably because he wins. He definitely beats me every time, and not because I let him.

But it’s the set itself I wanted to talk about here, how it looked in the warmth of our softly lit home, how it feels to play it after all these years.

We inherited our set from my grandmother and her sister. It’s old, possibly from the 30’s – it says on the yellowed instruction sheet that the Canada patent was registered in 1936.

I remember playing it with them, as a child, sitting around their dining room table.

The box is a simple white and red one with black lettering and pen and ink drawings. One caricatured man chases another past a row of houses. It smells of crumbling, aged, well-loved books. Bits of it are peeling off around the edges.

Inside, the paper money is faded and curled. The Chance and Community Chest cards are soft and worn, as are the properties. The colours of the properties themselves are darker than they are in more modern versions.

There is only one die left, and it is yellowed. We roll twice to simulate having two dice.

The white-backed board is in remarkably good condition. The golden Deluxe Edition lettering on the back is still perfect and clear, and the face is unworn.

It seems that the players’ pieces were all lost and have been replaced, though I don’t know when or by whom. I seem to remember playing with my grandparents and using the traditional little metal racing car, shoe, top hat and whatever the other pieces were. And these are in the black and white picture printed at the top of the instructions. But they are no longer part of this set.

Now, the pieces in the set are made of wood and stained or painted different colours. There is a white milk bottle, a burgundy and an orange wine goblet, a black shape and a purple one that resemble chess pieces, an orange egg cup with an egg in it and something undefinable, which is stained green.

Perhaps they were borrowed from another game. Or maybe my grandfather made them. I wish I knew.

The houses and hotels remain pristine, a testament to the strength and durability of plastic.

So why did I feel so compelled to take a picture of this set in play?

There was something about the glee on my son’s face – he was, of course, winning – but also the joy of playing with a battle-worn set. Family history, spread as it was across our modern table. The juxtaposition of the clean, white lines that is our house with the old, faded and peeling set. And at the same time, the feeling that the set somehow belongs in  this old brick house now.

My husband joined us after a while, and helped me referee our son and his slightly suspicious game strategy. Our son, meanwhile, was beside himself with excitement. He squealed, he leapt, he danced and sang. He stopped the game a few times to count his money.

I couldn’t help but smile at the old memories that came flooding back, and at the new ones we were making.

We only played for an hour or so but it was a wonderful moment in time, without cameras, without phones or video games or TV.

Just a family sitting around the table on a winter evening, playing a board game that has, so far, entertained four generations.


Other photo-less snapshots:

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17 thoughts on “A moment is worth a thousand words

  1. Love the way you describe your son’s excitement over the game and his questionable strategies….so cool! And wow, what a treasure the set is. I remember playing with my brothers as a child, and we all wanted to be the Scottie dog. But our “family” game has been Scrabble, forever, with my Grandma’s love of the game as the guiding force (she had questionable strategies too though). We all play that when we get together and I’m starting to teach my son and he loves it too…but we haven’t pulled out the Monopoly board yet…maybe I will?

    • Haha, too funny, my Grandma had questionable strategies, too – in Scrabble, Monopoly and anything else, really. It made her fun to play with – and even more fun to beat!
      My parents never really played games but my Grandma and great aunt were always sitting at the dining room table with a game of some sort – Scrabble, Monopoly, Chinese Checkers, Pit. I loved joining in!
      And yes, you should definitely pull out the Monopoly for your son 🙂

  2. I’ve recently been introduced to Monopoly Deal, the card game and it was very addicting. I wish we owned a set like yours when I was younger. The way you described your son’s happiness made me smile as well. Thanks for the pingback too, by the way! 🙂

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