Originally created 01/06/02

Creative family games hold off cabin fever

I don't get even, I get odder.

- Bill Kirby

Old Man Winter, who apparently spent much of the past two months resting up in a mountain chalet, has hit our region with a vengeance.

Remember all through that mild December when people would say, "I wish we could get a little cold weather"?

Well, they got their wish.

And now most of us are sitting around the house nursing our dry, cracked hands and trying to figure out why 110 cable TV channels don't have anything we care to watch.

There are things you can do. Fun things. Things that will help the family bond. Things like:

Killer jigsaw: My mother loved jigsaw puzzles. When the weather outside got too cold to enjoy, she'd set up a card table over in the corner and spend her spare time putting together big jigsaw puzzles.

Sometimes we would join in, and earned a grudging respect for anyone who could correctly piece together the repetitive reds of a fall leaf scene or the monotonous grays of a seascape.

But if you want a real challenge, turn the puzzle over. Yep. Try putting it together with the gray pieces upside-down. (Hint: This takes longer for some people.)

Static electricity tag: A variation of the childhood favorite freeze tag. This one's made for dry, cold winter days. Just take off your shoes, scoot along the carpet, build up a charge and whoever gets "shocked" is It.

TV drama: Do you have children who have shown a flair for the dramatic arts? Do you want them to learn timing, dialogue, character and plot development?

Do you want to discover that even a child could write your average soap opera?

If you answered yes, then here's what you do. Gather the clan around the family TV and turn on a daytime (or nighttime) drama or sitcom.

Let each person select a character.

Watch the show for a few minutes, learn the roles, then hit the mute button.

Now, when your character comes on, you create the lines.

Think of it as being reverse mimes.

You talk and react as long as your character is talking. When he or she shuts up, you shut up, and those who are doing the other characters take over when those actors have lines.

You say what you think they're saying.

We used to do this in college with some hilarious results.

It brought me to the conclusion that there is more quick wit in a fraternity house than in most Hollywood script departments.

It also brought me to the conclusion that cold weather gets old faster than any other season and a thaw can't come soon enough.

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or bkirby@augustachronicle.com.


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