These days it seems like all parents do is drive kids from place to place. When I was a kid, playing was free and right outside my front door. We made up games and shared with the neighbors and made friends. Sometimes we were out of the sight of a parent or paid teacher for minutes at a time. Now I fear that even playing has been commoditized.
Of course, I notice the same pattern in myself. My parents could play dozens of games with a single deck of cards yet I purchase expensive board games or computer games. These games require training for our friends so that a whole evening could be spent just learning the game, looking forward to a future time to play instead of being able to play right away.
My parents and their friends and neighbors knew a bunch of card games and the games were uncomplicated so that they were easy to teach. They could invite anyone from the neighborhood over for a game of pinochle or rummy and play well into the night, with people of all ages. I learned card games when I was 4 and played them against my great-grandmother; those memories are always with me.
And maybe those memories are why I find playing to be so important. I find that I really meet people when I play games with them. Whether it is a complicated game like Settlers of Catan (Cities and Knights expansion) with my friends or a simple game like Sorry with the kids, the structured interaction gives time for watching how people think. Do they strategize and plot? Are they intuitive and adept? Do they cry when sent back to Home just before reaching the Safety Zone?
At the end of a good game, you know not just a person but also their character. I fear this socializing is lost in structured classes dedicated to skill, not play.
And after all, toil and labor were the result of Original Sin, so I assume that means that Paradise was full of play before then. And if Heaven is a big wedding party, then they must be playing a holy version of the chicken dance whereas the eternal Macarena is condemned to the lowest circles of the Inferno.
And, in my experience, children always spend the longest time on the dance floor, inventing and meeting new family members, and playing imagined games.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: