This was the Christmas of Bananagrams and Finding the Ghost.
Bananagrams is Scrabble on speed. You use the same kind of tile letters as in Scrabble, but you don’t use a board and you don’t keep score. You start with about 15-20 tiles (depending on how many players) and just start building words in a crossword pattern. There are no points for using uncommon letters – it’s all about using them up. When a player uses up his initial set of tiles, he shouts “PEEL” and then everyone, including the peeler, picks up one more tile and tries to finish again. There are 144 tiles so the peeling is a big part of the game. When you build a good base, you can add single letters to your board as quickly as you can pick them up, so the peeling can be a real thrill. When there are no more tiles to peel, the next player to use up his letters wins. You can also play Banana Smoothie where you simply divide up all the letters at the start and try to be the first one to use them up.
I think the best thing about Bananagrams is that everybody plays at once, unlike Scrabble, where you spend a lot of the time just waiting your turn. The game can be serious or raucous depending on your mood, the concept and the rules are simple, it’s super-portable (just a bag with tiles in it), and you can play with only 2 people if you want to. Just like Scrabble, you get the pleasure of using your mind - concentrating, being creative, and drawing upon a huge storehouse of knowledge. And the feedback is immediate – win or lose – but completely inconsequential to your success in life.
Thanks to Adam’s sis (is that a word? I need a Scrabble dictionary) for introducing us to this fabulous game! The adults played it endlessly the whole week.
Samantha and her second-cousin (cousin-once-removed?) had their own game: Find the Ghost. It was nothing more than hide and seek – another game that has a simple concept. Adam’s dad had joked about their new house having ghosts, so when the ten-year-old cousin gave me a wink and then snuck upstairs, I told Sam to go find the ghost. That girl is a master hider! The girls had so much fun with this game that the first thing Sam said the next morning was FIND GHOST FIND GHOST, as if she had been dreaming about it all night.
Games are fun.