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Doing Life

April 30, 2022

Another Way for week of April 22, 2022 by Melodie M. Davis

Doing Life

Two of our grandsons (and their parents—important people!!) visited recently and we got out our old game of Life. The grandsons had never played before (ages 5 and 8) and we had probably not played in 20 years. So we were a bit rusty and also intrigued and fascinated by the salaries offered and the expenses of raising those little plastic stick children that you plug into the back of your six-seater minivan. Reaching the goal of a million-dollar nest egg, though, seems about as far off now as it did 20 years ago.

Playing with Lego pirates

The five-year-old soon bowed out and played nicely by himself as five of us entertained ourselves with what we children found to be an exciting board game back in the day. The creator of the game of Life, Reuben Klamer, died last fall at the age of 99, two years older than my mother who also died last fall. The game has gone through various incarnations and versions.

On the TV game show, Jeopardy, recently there was a Final Question phrased something like “A game that can be played by literally everyone on earth.” I begged to disagree with the Jeopardy question writers because while technically it can be played all over the world, I think residents of Antarctica, farmers in Iowa, miners in various countries of Africa, or the Australian outback would have trouble connecting with the North American suburban setting of the game.

After doing some online research, I have an inkling of where the question writers came up with that phase “can be played by literally everyone on earth,” which was first used in marketing the game. I understand the idea that Klamer was playing with—that life is something that “every single person experiences, so the market … was literally everyone on earth,” as New York Times quoted the maker (September 20, 2021). The Milton Bradley game company had earlier invented a game called the “Checkered Game of Life” which “rewarded virtue and punished vice.” Klamer’s Life game didn’t include much about vice, but as the game evolved over the years in various versions, playing options included cards that rewarded players for their community-building and charity efforts—that help build a more rewarding life.

As we moved our little vehicles around on the board, a different kind of “reckoning” (as you do at the end of the game) occurred for me as I thought about my age now and how young I was when we played with our daughters. And how VERY young I was when I played with my sister’s homemade Life game. (She concocted game boards for Life, Clue and Concentration!). Now I have lived through many of the seasons of real life: choosing a career, landing a job, a marriage partner, having children, grandchildren, buying a home, paying taxes, collecting a salary, donating to charities.

The boys decorated our driveway.

What a gift we’ve been given: one solitary life to live as we choose—but having no choice about where we were born or to what parents. Those of us with Christian parents are blessed to have been given the chance to grow up in a loving atmosphere. Of course, not all Christian parents choose well though: meting out abuse of many kinds, emotional instability, parents who have wrong ideas about what it takes to raise children. Kids as they grow up also bear responsibility in choosing wisely—steering clear of drugs or friends and places that drag them down. Heartbreak, trauma, and bad choices occur in the best of families and the best of locations.

Our hearts must go out now to those in the worst of circumstances such as war, famine, pandemic, losing homes as refugees, and natural disasters. God loves all and though we don’t understand how these terrible things are afflicting so many, we pray and pour out our hearts for all in harms’ way in this journey through life. Amen.


What memories does this stir for you?

Did or do you have the game of Life? What was/is your favorite board game? (Candyland is one I always refused to get our daughters… not my fav.)

Comment here or share with me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. We had checkers, a carom board, Uncle Wiggly at home when we were younger. Then Uno with Mom and my adult sisters, a mindless game that allowed us to chat and snack as we were gaming.

    In early April when we visited the Landis family on Florida’s west coast, we played games in the evening: Farkle, new to me and Mexican Dominoes. I not a fan of card or board games but go along with it because it’s a chance to socialize while we keep our hands busy. My grandkids played on a game board on Easter Day afternoon on the floor of my writing studio. What the game was, I do not know!

    Great topic, very homey, Melodie!

    • Thanks, Marian, although I am chagrined regarding the sloppy editing–and I know how it happened–moved something around late and forgot to fix– but I’m sorry you had to see the version with at least 2 mistakes. Oh well, that’s life!!

      We played Uncle Wiggly, had checkers, a carom board and others but I never liked playing Candyland! And yes, it is nice to play Uno and socialize; I’ve played with my grandsons because even the younger ones have enjoyed playing. I do not know about Farkle or Mexican Dominoes. We used to play Pinochle with friends which was loads of fun!

  2. Elaine permalink

    This triggered some long ago memories, Melody. We played Life at home when I was growing up and I’m pretty sure I still have the original game from when our own children, friends and family played the game. It’s really falling apart. One side note I remember from playing Life when at home was (having an Anabaptist background) my mother would not let us play the stock market. 🙂 You may be able to identify with that. Oh, yes we played Uncle Wiggly, Dutch Blitz, Uno, etc, too. Great family times! My daughter who is now 51 still loves to pull out the board games to play with her kids and friends they entertain.

    • Oh that’s so great–not letting you play the stock market! Interesting. Thanks for sharing and yes, Dutch Blitz! We played that with friends only with regular cards–I forget what they called it.

      • Elaine, I just remembered what they called Dutch Blitz played with playing cards: Pounce! 🙂

      • Elaine permalink

        Interesting on their take of Dutch Blitz. I hadn’t heard of Pounce.

  3. Elaine permalink

    I just wanted to also comment on “What a gift we’ve been given: one solitary life to live as we choose—but having no choice about where we were born or to what parents. Those of us with Christian parents are blessed to have been given the chance to grow up in a loving atmosphere.”
    I think of this often about the family I was given and am SO thankful for my heritage. What a responsibility we have to live to bring honor to the Lord. (Sorry, I am not very good at sentence structure)

  4. Comments are not a place to worry too much about sentence structure. I just write what pops in my head. Thanks for your comment on the precious nature of the life we’ve been given. I do enjoy hearing from readers!

  5. I think I remember playing Life as a dating game more than 50 years ago. Haven’t played it since. We had Scrabble, Monopoly, Rook, Uno, which I played with enthusiasm in my youth but never really developed a lasting attraction to. I play with children and grandchildren because they enjoy games. My co-author, however, refuses to play Candyland. 🙂

  6. Your co-author Marilyn McEntire is so wise. I wonder what makes some game players and others not. The fellowship and camaraderie is as important as the game. (Your new book w/ McEntire is on my “Mother’s Day” list …. 🙂

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