Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Dysfunctional Family Bingo, Anyone?

I was browsing on the Boston Mommy site, brought to you by the disgusting Boston Herald, the biggest rag north of the New York Post. The site is pretty good and doesn't have any of the Bill O'Reilly cheersquad reporting of it's parent newspaper. Today I note they have a game that I had totally forgotten about, but man, it looks like fun. I can't participate because my family has forgotten that we exist (no big loss there) and we're not having Thanksgiving with the relatives, but I don't want my internetties to miss out on this golden opportunity. It could be a really fun time, and I'm going to play host. I'm going to post the rules here, and you need to make your own card, and then report back when you get a Bingo. The first person to email me that they've gotten a Bingo wins a T'shirt. I promise to pick out something very appropriate.

Here’s how: Dysfunctional Family Bingo.

Five years ago, a Brookline, Massachusetts-based psychologist wrote a column about this ingenious holiday game. In his 2000 essay, and in a follow-up piece a year later, he expounded upon the rules of the game:

You make up faux-Bingo cards, with grids. Five columns, five rows. Twenty-five squares in total. In each box you write a hideous thing that could (or was likely) to occur during a garden variety, dysfunctional family holiday gathering, like Thanksgiving. (Think of a drunk uncle falling down or an elderly relative removing her dentures and putting them on the dinner table next to her lipstick stained wine glass).

You fertively bring your Bingo cards to your respective holiday gatherings. Each time one of the situations written on the Bingo card occurs, you put an “X” through the corresponding box. The first player to fill in five consecutive squares (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) wins and telephones the others to brag that his family is the most screwed up of all.

“We all know that holiday family visits can be stressful, so I adapted this game as a way to make them more endurable, and maybe even fun,” wrote Larry Cohen, the father of this darkly comedic Bingo game.

I’ve decided to commence the First Annual What was I THINKING Dysfunctional Family Bingo Contest, geared toward families with children at home.

We (the readers and I) will come up with items with which to fill our Bingo card. Here are a couple of examples of what I’ll put on the young family-oriented card:

  • Your child accidentally breaks something fragile that a relative insisted should be left out on the coffee table directly at the toddler’s height because it “goes with the room’s décor.” (Think Lenox candy dishes on a glass coffee table.)
  • Grandma tells you that your infant is "spoiled" every time you pick the baby up.
  • You get into a heated “discussion” with a relative over why you or your spouse insists on breastfeeding your baby. (“It’s so primitive,” one relative tsks.)
  • A relative comes over to you while you’re trying to cook something and physically removes the utensil/bowl/pot from your hand while shaking her head.
  • A relative begins a discussion about politics that support right wing ideology and calls you stupid when you disagree.
  • Your child refuses to eat everything on his plate and a relative negatively comments about picky eaters.
  • Someone makes a snide remark about how your children (or your teenager) are dressed.
  • Your spouse disappears somewhere and leaves you marooned with your in-laws in the living room after dinner.

  • Here’s how the What was I THINKING? Dysfunctional Family Bingo Contest will work:
  • There are 25 squares on the Bingo sheet. (That’s five spots per each row horizontally and vertically. If you’re clueless as to how to play Bingo, call an elderly citizen who’s a Bingo aficionado.)
  • I need 25 different potentially obnoxious things that could happen during your family’s Thanksgiving dinner next week. (We’re ditching the free spot in the middle. Ya gotta work for this.)
  • If you want to contribute an item for the Bingo card, post your suggestion in the “comments” section below. If you guys don’t offer up any suggestions, I’ll be forced to come up with my own (which will all be fictional of course, and will bear absolutely no resemblance to any of my personal family gatherings). I reserve the right to decide what goes on the Bingo card.
  • I’ll post the contents of the Bingo card on Monday.
  • If you’re like every red-blooded American family and are anticipating just a tad bit of dysfunction at your Turkey Day dinner, you can play along. Every time one of the incidents occurs, you put an “X” through the item on the Bingo card. When you get five items in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, you win.
  • If you get Bingo, be the first one to post your so-called victory (after all, you will have to live through it to “win”) in the comment section of the last What was I THINKING post, listing the items that caused you to win.)
  • If you’re the first to declare, “Bingo” online, I’ll e-mail you, interview and feature you in a subsequent blog entry and will send you a T'shirt.

    All clear? Any questions? Now let’s get dysfunctional!

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Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi, I'm here via Michele today.. This game sounds like a lot of fun, and I wish I had the time to get with it, but I'm waaaaay behind it everything, so, I'll have to come bsck for this...
Nice to meet & greet you!

18/11/05 6:10 PM  
Blogger Shari said...

Well, let's see....

Someone always throws up!

18/11/05 6:23 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

OK, I like that one!

18/11/05 6:36 PM  
Blogger Thumper said...

We're probably too dysfunctional to play... ;)

Here via Michele's today :)

18/11/05 6:43 PM  
Anonymous DeanaHeathClark said...

How about the one severe "hypochondriac"(???spelling)that's always faint or having you help them walk to the table?

18/11/05 7:12 PM  
Blogger RC said...

How about "whiskergravy", because when my grandma makes the gravy, there is always whiskers in it, like her famous chocolate chip whisker cookies.

Hi, you sent me!

I hope you have a nice weekend, margalit, and thanks for visitng my blog!

18/11/05 7:28 PM  
Blogger WendyWings said...

Posts like this make me glad we don't have Thanksgiving here LOL
Michele sent me :)

18/11/05 11:16 PM  
Blogger Carmi said...

I'm glad Canada celebrated Thanksgiving last month - and am also glad we don't make as much of a deal of it here.

It's funny because it's so true. Just hearing the phrase "family get together" gives me hives.

18/11/05 11:40 PM  
Blogger Happy Mama to Three said...

Hmm Oh let's see

One or more children uses one of their favorite new words in front of the family. You know the ones, shit, damn. The words that make Granny get the vapors.

An argument erupts because each member of the party remembers some "family event" differently. "Tammy Maybelle did so have four husbands." "No she did not it was only three, she married that first one twice." "No you're both wrong she was married five times, cause she married that first one twice, and then married his brother later."

And dontcha just love when the dirty little family secret creeps out over turkey and dressing?? The one where Aunt Fanny whispers every time she says it, and one of the grandparents faints.

Gosh family gatherings are so much fun.


19/11/05 12:55 AM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

There's always a relative one would rather not show up at family gatherings!

Michele sent me here.

19/11/05 4:52 AM  
Blogger craziequeen said...

Morning Margalit,

Sadly my family is so dysfunctional that we don't speak, let alone meet in the same room....

but it sounds like a fun game :-)

Michele sent me


19/11/05 4:52 AM  
Blogger Tamar said...

I adore this game! Am thinking how fun it would be to play it and how good it is for us to recognize ourselves and laugh about it. I wrote a post "It should be the norm" recently which is a much more sobering "take" on this priceless game! Now I have to go think up some stuff to write in those columns and squares.
(P.S. I came here from ainelivia's site)

19/11/05 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Charles (Canadian in Hong Kong) said...

Hi there... Michele sent me. I also read your comment on my blog and was interested to visit your site anyway. I hope things are going well with your twins. I couldnt easily find the background of their prematurity. If you have posted about that can you please send me the link or trackback? Thanks a bunch... by the way (grin) if you aree looking for more "Dad" blogs, feel free to link to me. I will reciprocate, too. We have a lot of common links, one of them being Tertia, who Tess (my wife) and I have gotten to know quite well. (Not hard actually, considering all the stuff she posts!

19/11/05 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

Oh boy! I'd be really good at this game if I was actually going to be around my family for Thanksgiving. I think I can already check off almost everything you mentioned. Here are a few from personal experience:

An elderly relative opens the back door and chucks out a noisy toy, traumatizing the child who is playing with said toy (instead of just asking child/parent to put the toy away).

An elderly relative tells you that your husband is going to leave you when you fail to wait on him hand and foot. He had to fill his own dinner plate! The horror!

An elderly relative gives you the stink eye and says "in my day, a man would never do that" when your husband changes the baby's diaper.

An elderly relative get angry when a younger relative wants to try a new recipe and calls the new dish "gourmet" in a snide voice.

Ex-boyfriends/girlfriends are all mentioned and analyzied in front of the current spouse.

Your mother makes a cutting comment about your hair/make-up/weight/mole on the back of your neck.

19/11/05 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Shelly said...

I could win this game too!! My favorite is the older cousin who just has to tell your 5 y/o that there is no Santa Claus. Bonus points if the 5 y/o ask more than 100 times between Thanksgiving & Christmas if there really is a Santa Claus.

19/11/05 10:41 AM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Back again, through the wonderful world of Meet & Greet at Michele's!
Hope you are having a good weekend Margalit...

19/11/05 2:54 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

how clever! That sounds like a fun game that could have many different twists to it.
I'd play but i'm getting married Thanksgiving weekend and i'll be too busy to keep up with blogging for the next two weeks. Good luck with it though, and Happy Thanksgiving.
hi from Micheles!

19/11/05 3:21 PM  
Anonymous pia said...

I'm clueless; okay my Thanksgiving will consist of my sister's in-laws who I love but call "Jews who voted for Bush."

I'm not really sure that's relevant for your game but I think that watching them squirm as they try to defend that vote might have been good because we haven't been attacked again--the sole reason they voted for him--will be fun

How about an eleven year old girl who is a real teenager and will pout unless everybody treats her as one. She won't just pout but cry and scream--really

It will be my sister's birthday and she will pout and cry unless everybody brings her presents (hypothetically of course.)

Sorry I don't have any really good game pieces

Just thinking about this is almost enough for me to wish that the Long Island Railroad closes for the day but nothing happens to anybody!

Think Belinda tried introducing us; will blogroll you because I really like your blog

19/11/05 3:43 PM  
Blogger TC said...

Here via Michele's. What a fun game!

19/11/05 6:34 PM  
Blogger Debby said...

Just found your blog -- LOVE IT!!! Wish I could help with the game, but whenever I'm going to be getting together with my kids, kids in-laws, my ex and his new wife, my new husband and all the grands, I just pop a couple of Atavin beforehand, and nothing they do or say can bother me. LOL

19/11/05 9:51 PM  
Blogger Beanhead said...

Your brother passes out in the best chair in the house and proceeds to pass gas for the next four hours.

Here via Michele's

19/11/05 10:37 PM  
Blogger utenzi said...

Michele sent me over your way, Margalit.

I'm afraid I'd be no good at this game. While my family has its share of dramas, nothing on a scale that would allow me to score many points on this 'family bingo' game. Good luck to y'all--though I suppose the best luck would be to not score many points.


20/11/05 2:08 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Hi there thanks for stopping by my blog. I just wanted to let you know that I have never parked in a hanicapped spot nor would I. In fact that is a huge pet peeve of mine! The whole pregnant parking thing though is a bit much for me. Anyway thanks for stopping by and I will be back to try and play bingo with you.

20/11/05 9:43 AM  
Blogger Dr. Cissa Fireheart said...

I got a few good ones...unfortuneatley I won't have enough relatives over for Turkey Day, but maybe I'll play the Christmas Edition....oh yeah and I came here from "Stranded in Suburbia" aka Laurie....

- your female relative who has a child in your child's age range wants to brag about how great their child is, and points out your child's shortcomings -- in front of the kids.

- The eldest patriarch and matriarch of the family (usually grandma and grandpa) get into a fight at the dinner table.

- a pre-teen/teenager whines incessantly about "being stuck at the kid's table"

- The Turkey gets undercooked, causing everyone to need to rush to the bathroom -- at the same time.

20/11/05 11:13 AM  
Blogger Belinda said...

Yep, I sent Pia here first! I'm so proud!! Seriously--"Jews Who Voted For Bush?" How about just the "Please Sell Me A Clue" club? Wow.

Anyway, I must have the least dysfunctional family on the planet, because the worst thing I can remember in a lifetime of family Thanksgivings is when I dropped a sweet potato souffle' on the street on the way inside.

Just normal whiny little-kid stuff would be the only disruptions I could think of. One year just after Alex and I were married, my FIL wanted to pass around a tape-recorder and have everyone record what they were thankful for, or something, and Alex's mom pretended there were no batteries so we wouldn't have to. That was kinda funny.

20/11/05 9:19 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

oh that is SO funny!!!!

hahahahaha... dysfunctional family bingo - I LOVE IT!!!

21/11/05 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so we have Thanksgiving w/friends, but I'm happy to add items from other family get-togethers (all really happened...):

- Relative publically returns a gift, saying it's not good enough.
- Your family is relagated in it's entirety to the kiddy table, while your step-grandparent's family is right up at the front.
- Step-grandparent gives gifts to all the kids, giving expensive ones to her family and things obviously worth <$2 to your kids of the exact same age and gender.
- Step-grandparent insists everyone give the highlights of their year, knowing that your highlights are divorce, depression, cancer, etc.; she refuses to let you pass.
- When you get up to get desert (buffet-style), Step-grandparent folds up said kiddy table to which you were relegated so you have nowhere to sit.
- Guest gets drunk and sick; bonus points if said relative is under age 18; double bonus points if said relative is under age 13, or if it's your kid.
- Guest has so many strange food requirements s/he can't eat most of what's on the table, yet s/he didn't bring any food to eat and would rather just complain loudly.
- Parent uses this opportunity to bring up publically the last incredibly insensitive thing you did, then berates you for responding.
- Parent berates you for being too rigid because you insist your child has to eat something right away when dinner is several hours late.
- Parent berates you for being too hard on your young child because s/he didn't eat, is about to throw a fit, and you're taking him/her out of the situation.
- When you get insulted at poor treatment, relative announces she will never do a holiday ever again and it's all your fault.

This all would be WHY we have Thanksgiving w/friends :-)

22/11/05 10:42 AM  

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