Photo by Tyler Lambert
In my family, we play Scrabble. My daughter plays. I play. My Mom plays. Her Mom played. Other women in our family, as well as close family friends, have joined in over the generations. We even let the men play from time to time. We’ve had marathon games, and we’ve heard stories about memorable games over the years. It’s kind of like sports in other families. At family gatherings, we would fix dinner, eat, clean up, and settle in to play.
My daughter has the deluxe version of the game, with the rotating turntable board. It’s the actual one that I bought for my Granny. The Styrofoam is missing from one corner. It was chewed away by a skunk that got into it at Granny’s house, where she stored it in the dining room – that’s a whole different story. Inside the lid, you can find documented historical moves. You can see the date when Granny’s best friend, Francis, dumped her rack. You can also see particularly high score games and other outstanding accomplishments.
My husband is from Scotland. We played Scrabble on our wedding night. He likes to think he can use words that are common usage in the UK, but I only allow this when we are playing in UK. He is a good player, and it’s usually a pretty close game between us. I keep a little notebook in my Scrabble box, so that I can keep a dated record of every game played. My letter tiles are in a bag that my Mom sewed for me after the original bag gave out. It’s made out of a pig print fabric, because I love pigs.
You see, there is a reason why you have to get dinner, and all the clean up, done before you start to play. You never know when a game is going to end. It’s not unheard of for a nap to happen between moves. There is a story of one such game that has been retold many times in our family. It presents a great analogy for life, so it’s value is immeasurable.
So, Granny, Francis, and my Great Aunt Clydie, are playing into the night. Granny’s son, my Uncle Chris, is a little boy sitting on laps. He moves around the table as the women take their turns. He knows he is not allowed to give away any secrets. He can see all of the letters on everyone’s rack, and studies them as he moves from seat to seat. The play is long, the room is quiet. My Uncle looks up and says “You could spell PIGEON if you had the right letters.” Everyone has a good laugh at this punchline.
The point is, you can spell anything if you have the right letters. So it is with life. As you move through life, you will sometimes get the distinct feeling that your rack is full of vowels, without a consonant in sight. Sometimes, you have all the high scoring letters, but you’re sunk without a vowel. Then there are the times when you’ve got an awesome word, but no place to play it. Some days, everything works for you, and you dump your rack. You will struggle as you grow, trying to beat your Mom, or your Granny, in a game. When you do, it may not feel as sweet as you expected.
You get to pick your letters, but you don’t get to see them first… Just like life. We need to accept our letters and play our best every day. It’s always easier when every thing goes your way, and your letters are perfect. Sometimes, though, when you have no other options, just play your word and move on.