Before computer games became all the rage, when you were invited to “play a game,” it usually meant a board game.  The most popular were the classics:  Monopoly, Scrabble and Risk.

Some of the sweetest memories of my childhood are of the times my brothers and I were locked in a life or death game of Monopoly.  When I would beg them to play, they would concede to play one game-If the youngest of the two could be the banker.  They have yet to confess that they were in cahoots to “rob the bank” but I never won, and they almost always had money to buy up all the hotels.  I chose to never make the accusation, because I loved the time together.  But, I did try to keep track of how much they were pilfering….

My favorite piece was the thimble.

My favorite piece was the thimble.

As children, we were clueless that Monopoly was first played to boost morale of those suffering from the financial devestation of the Great Depression.  In Monopoly, anyone could become a real estate mogul.  Upon further inspection, there are a few life lessons to be learned from the most popular board game in the world.

  1.  Life isn’t always fair.   Rule # 1-everybody starts out the same-at the Go Square with the same amount of money.  Then, along the way there are surprises-some good, some bad. The key is to keep playing-keep your head in the game, so you can excel despite the roll of the dice.
  2. Be ready for lucky breaks.  Keep your life in order, so you can capitalize on opportunites that present themselves.
  3. Be ready for unlucky breaks.  That means an emergency fund to pay for unexpected taxes, home improvements.  Don’t be the one with little reserve and wind up needing to sell off all your assets just to pay the rent.
  4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.   Good financial advice whether you are buying up utilties, railroads and houses in Monopoly or using real money in the stock market.

So, while it looked like we were just whiling away a hot afternoon on the screened in porch, my brothers and I were preparing ourselves for the real world-learning how to handle the ups and downs of life.  We were learning that “accidently” knocking over the board when we were losing was no solution at all.  In fact, it just created bigger problems that were no longer pretend and paper money.  We were learning about life.

I would love to celebrate National Games and Puzzle Week with some lemonade and a game of Monopoly with my brothers.  And I would still keep a close eye on the banker.

Is there a game that evokes childhood memories for you?  Did Monopoly provide you with the life lesson that life isn’t fair, but you can still be a winner?