I knew I was really scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel when I typed the following into my search favorite search engine just now: “April 13 is national…”
And boy did my computer come up with some interesting answers. But as soon as I saw the first one, I knew exactly what to write about. Today is National Scrabble Day!
I’m serious. If you don’t believe me, just type the same phrase into your own search engine and see what happens. You can also read all about the unofficial holiday here.
The Best Board Game Of All Time
I must admit, I am much happier about this than I should be. But for one thing, I was getting sick and tired of writing about serious stuff. I also had no idea what on earth to write about today. And anyhow, I absolutely love Scrabble. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best board game of all time. Or one of them, anyway.
By way of full disclosure, I’m old enough to remember playing board games as a child. That’s right. Not video games. Board games. I got my first one when I was five. I think it was Candy Land, but I’m not too sure.
I don’t know exactly how old I was when I started playing Scrabble, either. But chances are my mom taught me how to play — probably after Christmas or Easter dinner. And we’ve had some pretty intense games since then. What can I say? I’m an extremely competitive person.
Having said that, I also play fair. So on one rare occasion, I was beating Mom quite handily — or at least I thought I was. At any rate, I made a strategic decision to take it easy on her, and it backfired. At the last-minute, she used her two remaining tiles to spell some stupid word like “ox” or “ax” and found a place to put it in order to get a whole bunch of bonus points. With that, she won. And I learned a valuable lesson. I’ve never “thrown a game” since.
Getting Schooled By The Master
Ironically, my favorite memory of playing Scrabble also involved a game that I lost. That time my grandmother beat me fair and square.
On a beautiful Australian afternoon, we set up the game board on the picnic table in my grandparents’ back yard. As my mother, grandfather and a few more relatives watched, my grandmother, who was in her 80s at the time, calmly proceeded to outwit and outplay me. If I remember correctly, she spanked me fairly soundly.
But it was hardly surprising. Grandma was brilliant.
As a farmer’s wife in drought-prone Australia, she raised five kids — including my mom — in some trying circumstances. In addition to running her household with all of the aplomb befitting a banker’s daughter, she was also active in her community.
In her free time, she enjoyed helping my grandfather with his crossword puzzles. She loved to travel and took the opportunity to do it whenever she could. Her adventurous spirit took her across the world on several occasions. She came to the United States for both my high school graduation and my wedding.
In 2009, she and Grandpa celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. But her health was failing by then. She died just one week of their 73rd wedding anniversary in July 2012.
Her memory lives on.