The Thanksgiving Game Keeps Us ThanksGIVING, ThanksGUESSING, and ThanksSHARING

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. The menu couldn’t be better. The day starts with a parade. Happy hour starts at noon and board games hit a new level of competitiveness when you are suppressing annoyance or passive aggressive comments toward relatives you can barely stand. Out of curiosity and to see if I could spice up my favorite Thursday, I did a search for Thanksgiving themed board games. What I found was The Thanksgiving Game, a game where players get to experience ThanksGIVING, ThanksGUESSING, and ThanksSHARING.

The reason the picture on the box looks like it was taken in 1977 is probably because it was. Kentucky native Louie Stotz came up with the idea for The Thanksgiving Game in 1977 while waiting for family members to arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. He handed out pencils and paper and made up a pretty simple game. Everyone writes down five things they are thankful for, someone reads the answers, and everyone guesses what everyone wrote. The person with the most points wins.

Stotz’s annual family game became a packaged and purchasable product in 2007. It may be real and consumable, but is The Thanksgiving Game also as untouchable as Grandma’s Jell-O salad? That depends on the company you keep or the company you are surrounded by on Thanksgiving.

The game’s mission is to help us focus on the importance of the holidays. According to Stotz, that focus should be on celebrating God’s love with our family and friends. While that is a noble and appropriate opinion I respect, I prefer my games to be focused on winning, laughing, and minor gambling. My friends are more Cards Against Humanity and less Cranium Bible Edition. The beauty of The Thanksgiving Game is that it is open-ended enough to be a mix of both.

The game is geared for at least three players seven years old and up. I’m sure with a little spelling help, younger kids could play too—I’m 35 and can still use some spelling help. And the game is now available in Chinese and French too! Included are Thanksgiving Cards where each player writes down what they are thankful for, score pads, answer sheet covers, and a storage insert. The rules are included too, but my friends and I tend to bend the rules a bit on games like these.

While The Thanksgiving Game gives examples of Jesus and the United States of America as things to be thankful for, my friends will likely declare other things closer to their hearts. Like light beer and free WiFi. All of these examples are totally valid. To keep the game going, we may also come up with categories and reasons why we are thankful for them. Topics may include, but are not limited to, space exploration, cat videos, and peanut butter.

While I am still baffled that The Thanksgiving Game exists, it’s totally real. I just don’t think I’ll be playing it the way Stotz imagined. But I couldn’t agree more with Stotz’s reminder that giving thanks is always in season. I am forever thankful for the friends and family around my dinner table. And for the ridiculous games we play in the name of entertainment, bragging rights, and friendly wagers. Happy ThanksGIVING!

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