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Game for family
January 23, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Board games. When I think about family time growing up, playing board games springs to mind. Actually, games of all kinds. Maybe it was the lack of smartphones, overextended extracurriculars or video game consoles no more powerful than the neighbor kids’ Atari down the street, but when my family managed to eke out some time together it often boiled down to games.

Monopoly. Gin rummy. Scrabble. This is where I developed my wheeling and dealing skills and honed a competitive streak. It is also where I developed some of my fondest recollections and took a break from bickering with my older brother. Maybe it sounds boring and old-fashioned and quaint — until I mention these hours were also a good chance for my dad to impose his ’60s and ’70s rock record collection on us kids and emulate Pete Townshend on air guitar — but it left a lasting impression.

Fast-forward decades and the idea of family time seems to be a label slapped on any stretch longer than a few minutes where more than one member comes up for air from work, school, chores, hobbies — you name it. Not that the moments the ships passing in the night put down anchor for a spell aren’t worthwhile but sometimes it would be nice for an excuse to do something more. And since I guess a great number of folks are like myself — in need of some serious prodding most of the time — it would be helpful to have those excuses already provided.

Maybe that’s why the annual San Carlos “Week of the Family” sounds like such a lovely roundup of activities whether one lives in the community or not. Heck, even if one doesn’t fit into the traditional image of the family with two parents, 2.5 kids, the dog and the picket fence, doesn’t a large-scale roshambo contest sound like fun? Everybody can play rock, paper, scissors and frankly anybody can win regardless of age. That said, bring it on children and senior citizens! If only this had been an option in my childhood. Grandma might have never let me win at Scrabble but I think my rock might have crushed her scissors.

But looking at the list of activities planned for the week (which starts Friday by the way), there’s obviously more to family appreciation on the Peninsula than claiming familial revenge against one’s smarter elders. There’s theater day and cooking demos and story time and trampoline jumping. Star gazing, scavenger hunts, science and acrobats. Forget Disneyland. San Carlos is apparently the happiest place on earth for the next week. And did I mention Sundae Sunday? Even the most scattered of families should come together for ice cream.

Kids, remember to circle Monday on the calendar. Jan. 27 is citywide no-homework night. Man, where was this when I was lugging textbooks and procrastinating on reports? Suggestion from my inner long-ago child: citywide no-homework week!

Another nod to my childhood — next Friday marks Family Game Night! I can’t promise anybody there will take the opportunity to channel The Doors or Frank Zappa a la my late father but one can never go wrong with a little family bonding over games. Or at least one shouldn’t go wrong — frankly, it might be a tall order to expect hugs and civility when a sibling is demanding you pay up handsomely for Park Place.

But what one should do is at least try it out. The apps and Xboxes and work will always be there even when the chance to hang out with the family has passed.

The 15th annual Week of the Family kicks off Friday, Jan. 24 and runs through Feb. 1. For a full list of events and times check out

Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor:



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