I’ve come to regard the summer games we play as the bells that call our children home.

We’re all counting the days until July 4th weekend when our family gathers with cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers to celebrate one another and our independence – both national and personal.

As our grown children branch out and find their places in the world, it’s important that they feel securely rooted in family and tradition. Next to breaking bread, it seems that games have become our favorite pastime. As parents we need to set the stage for healthy activities the same way we set the table for daily nutrition.

Once the games begin, squeals of delight can be heard morning, noon and night from ongoing tournaments in Croquet, Ping Pong, Badminton, Beach Paddle and our newly acquired Bananagrams. Kids, grown and flown, who might otherwise focus on cocktails seek out new games and more space to record running scores and records. We even painted a wall in our garage with “chalk board” paint to keep the scores and memories recorded.

I fell asleep in the hammock on one of these game-filled afternoons while pondering which was more satisfying to hear… bird sounds or game sounds. The game sounds prevailed because for me they represent both joy and connection. Who could ask for more than that? Games seem to bridge the gap between the generations and create common ground for a varied group. And a varied group is one more thing to celebrate!

I consider the warm associations we have with the games we play, along with the food we eat, as the crumbs that lead our children home. My hope and prayer is that a family that plays together, stays together. So far this has happily been the case.