Meredith Bean McMath
November 21, 2009
Holidays tend to come and go in a whirlwind. As they fly by at 80 mph, we hear phrases such as “Don’t forget the meaning of the—,” “Make special family time for—,” “Holiday traditions can—.” And most of us contemplate these phrases and give serious time to consider their full meaning and import… right around the time we’re wrapping up leftovers.
But holidays are a rare window of opportunity: holiday feasts are the one time we can usually count on most of the family in one place and in a festive mood. This is our chance! I have some great traditions you might want to add to the table. I promise they don’t take much time and the benefits could last for years.
BEFORE THE MEAL: Go around the table and asking everyone what they’re thankful for. In a rough economy, it’s never a bad thing to remind ourselves of how much we’ve been blessed, and psychologists tell us the exercise is very, very good for us (check out this article from Psychology Today).
Prepare yourself: someone at the table will answer seriously, another will toss off a joke. Who cares? There are no right answers here.
AFTER THE MEAL: Play a parlor game. What… you don’t think your great-grandparents knew how to have fun?
Try one of these on – one size fits all ages!
a. The Neighbor’s Cat – Go around the table and have each person describe the cat with an adverb from each letter of the alphabet, i.e., Aunt Edna starts with “The minister’s cat is an ANGRY cat,” and Jimmy, Jr. says, “the Minister’s cat is a BALD cat.” Now, if the crowd doesn’t like Neighbor’s Cat, try Neighbor’s Dog or Horse, and if someone states a word that does not begin with the correct letter or claims they’re stumped, they have to pay a forfeit.
FORFEIT: This is the fun part. A forfeit is any completely foolish task — like having to sing Happy Birthday to yourself with your nose pinched shut, or having to ask three people a question to which you can only answer “yes” or “no,” but you have to give the answer before they ask the question. Sky’s the limit here.
b. “If You Love Me, Honey, Smile” — Someone at the table is designated “It.” They have to ask anyone at the table “If you love me Honey, smile.” The person must reply, “I love you honey, but I just can’t smile” – but the rule is they can’t smile as they answer. “It” goes around until someone at the table cracks a smile. When they crack, they have to pay a forfeit.
c. 21 Questions — “It” thinks of a famous person or character. The players have 21 questions in which to find out who they are. “Are you alive?” “Are you female?” etc. If no one guesses, “It” gets to choose a forfeit and make the whole table pay it or the victim of their choice.
d. Endless Story – A “Master Time-keeper” is designated to hold a bell. Someone begins a story — any story with any characters — and they tell the tale for one minute, after which the Master Time-keeper rings the bell. The next person in the circle must immediately continue the story, even if it stopped in the middle of a sentence. Game continues until they come full circle. The person who began the tale will now have exactly one minute to come up with a successful ending which includes all the pieces of the story that have been described by all the various players. If he/she cannot wrap things up in one minute (or if the Master Time-keeper decides the summary was inadequate), they pay a forfeit to be determined by The Master Time-keeper.
So, how easy are these, right?
They’re all simple to incorporate and always worth the trouble. For more parlor games and forfeits, visit “Inquire Within” a webpage I created to produce Victorian Balls for living history programs. Every game in there has been tried and loved, believe me.
So give these (and others) a try. At the very most, you’ll wind up with some great new traditions. At the very least, you’ll have some great memories to laugh over as you wrap up those leftovers.