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Published June 18. 2011 09:01AM

The last time I went to our daughter's home to baby-sit, I sat on the enclosed porch with Colton and watched his favorite video. While I was sitting there, I started staring at the game shelf. There are well over 100 games there.

Many of the games are new, but some of them were mine when I was a youngster. Some were Jen's, some were Fred's (Jen's husband), some were my husband's, and the rest have been accumulated during the childhoods of the four grandkids.

I was struck by the volume of games, but one game stood out among all the rest. There were eleven boxes of Monopoly. Who needs that many Monopoly games? Well, apparently they do.

There was the oldest Monopoly - from my youth. I'm sure you remember that one - it had the little top hat as one of the game pieces. There were two other "regular" Monopoly games of newer vintage. Then, there were two NFL, a NASCAR, a Harry Potter, a Sesame Street, a major league baseball, and two Disney themes.

When my daughter got home, I mentioned the mucho Monopoly boxes. She laughed and said, "We play all of them." I guess each kid gets to pick the favorite theme on a rotating basis.

The family has game night every Friday - along with pizza for dinner. It has become a tradition. I've learned many new games through the years. And, because my grandkids are usually better at those new games than I am, they beat me regularly. However, when it comes to Monopoly, I am seldom beaten. I do not have sympathy for anyone during that game. I am a shark.

I was taught early in life that - when you play a game - you play to win. I didn't give even the youngest child a break. If they wanted to play with Grandma, they had to beat me fair and square. Even when 8-year-old Conor looked at me with tears in his eyes as he landed on my expensive hotel property, I stuck out my hand to collect his money - or his property. If it meant he was out of the game, so be it. The shark was at work!

Friends of ours in South Carolina played Monopoly with us one time. The husband was extremely annoyed with Jim and me. He said, "I thought this was a friendly game." My answer? "We're friends, but not during a Monopoly game." They never played with us again.

I think the Parker Brothers would be proud of the way I play Monopoly. They certainly didn't intend for their game to be a "Kumbaya" moment. They were encouraging the players to be free market entrepreneurs. After all, the goal of the game is to amass as much money and property as you are able. Once you have vanquished all the other players, you can sit back and enjoy owning the entire board.

Whether you own one or eleven Monopoly games, try having a Friday night competition. In this world of disappearing savings and increasing costs, playing with Monopoly money is good for the soul- and a lot less stressful.


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