I love my nieces and nephew, my sister’s four kids. They range in age from 19 (20 next month!) to 10. The oldest is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and the youngest is in, I think, the fifth grade.
My nephew is, of course, a video game aficionado, as are most boys these days (he’s the 10-year-old), and even my nieces love electronic devices. So usually there’s a video game or an electronic handheld or an iPod or something among their birthday or Christmas gifts. But the most fun gifts are often the ones you can enjoy with other people, so I have made it a point to always buy board games. At Christmas, I try to buy at least one per kid, then I tag those for all of the kids so there’s no fighting. We always end up playing several games after all the gifts are opened.
Several years ago, after Thanksgiving dinner (which is always at my house), I sat down with the kids afterwards and we played a few board games. One of the kids said, “This is fun…we should do this more often.”
So I started a family tradition called Spieltag. Spieltag is German for “game day.” Sorta. Technically, I think it should be tag des spiel (“day of play”), but spieltag has a nicer ring. For the record, it’s pronounced shpeel-tahg. We are not German, but I wanted a catchy name for the event, and so Spieltag it is!
We usually do Spieltag at my sister’s house, but occasionally we’ll hold it at my house (usually in the summer when the dogs can enjoy the sun outside while the house is full of kids). We have food, soda, juice, things to nibble on. It’s one of the best traditions we’ve started.
With the number of games the kids have now, there’s no shortage of things to play. The more fun games are the ones that end up making us laugh–games like Would You Rather…? or Cranium, or games that make you do silly tricks like standing on one foot, singing a song, and balancing something on your nose. Then there are the trivia games. For those, they usually all team up against me. Two or three teams of two or three kids against me (yes, teams of two or three kids…because my sister’s kids invite their friends over on game day), and I usually win (in the four or five years we’ve been doing this, I think they’ve beat me once;)
In today’s world, with so many people connected with the outside world electronically, with most of our “friends” keeping in touch via Facebook or text messaging, it’s nice to be able to sit down at a table and surround yourself with the laughter of your loved ones. Life is too short and too precious to let it all pass you by. I look around the table at my nieces and nephew, and sometimes I get a flash of memory–my oldest niece at 1 1/2 singing Patsy Kline’s Crazy in the backseat of my car, my middle niece looking like a princess in her ballerina dance costume, my youngest niece smiling at age 4 with a face full of chocolate and a huge smile, my newborn nephew with his little black Chuck Taylors that my brother bought him–and I’m so thankful that I got to experience all those things and that I get to watch these kids grow from babies into the beautiful young people they’re becoming.
Why am I writing about this today? Well, my brain’s been in a little bit of a funk lately. I think it has to do with the bombings in Boston last week. Not that I’m obsessing over them (I’m not), but the whole thing just seems to have drained me. It was too close to home, and it reminded me of how fleeting our time can be in this world. We go about our daily lives, worrying about things that we think are the big things, when it can all be taken away in a matter of minutes, or even seconds. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
Cherish the little things in life, for one day you
will realize that they were the big things.
Your job and your bills are important, your home and your car, your health insurance, your taxes–all of those things are important. But there are more important things than those, things that may seem pointless or silly–like standing on one foot, singing a silly song, and balancing something on your nose–those are the things that you’ll be remembered for, those are the things that are “little” that are actually quite a big deal.
Cherish the little things…and try to realize NOW that they are the big things.