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A Belly Laugh from Baltic Avenue

My parents did their best to prepare me for the real world. But I think my greatest preparation came from playing Monopoly as a young teenager with my best friend, Babs. Babs had a knack for always landing on Boardwalk and Park Place -- unless, of course, I owned them and had hotels on them. In that case, she would waltz on by and collect her $200 for passing Go while she was at it. Although I don't remember much about who "won" or "lost" those games, I sure remember a lot about the journey around the board. I remember the times when Babs would own just about everything on the Board, and all I had was Baltic and Mediterranean. She would say, Janet, give it up, but I wouldn't. For me, that's when the fun would begin. I figured we just needed to get a little more creative (as soon as I rolled the right dice to get out of Jail, that is!).

We always found ourselves belly laughing on the floor as soon as we decided to break loose from some of the old rules and use our imaginations instead. With a little ingenuity, I would do "fundraisers" to build these grand charity institutions on my little plots of land and have tax write-offs, and well, you get the picture. With the determination and creativity that Scarlett used to resurrect Tara, I learned a lot about the empowerment of having choices and having fun with those games -- even when I "lost." This holiday season, many of us will be receiving those glowing annual letters from our friends who live on Boardwalk. Perhaps some of us will be writing the letters from Boardwalk. From someone who has lived on both sides, I've found that we really don't need to get too enamored with where we are on the board, because that can change at any given moment. What we can get enamored with, though, is the journey. Can we belly laugh with those on Boardwalk or do we resent them too much to be that vulnerable? Can we extend a hand of helpfulness and equality to those on Baltic, or are we too preoccupied protecting our precious Boardwalk real estate?

Chutes and Ladders. Candyland. Monopoly. They're all about gain and loss. Such is life. But it's up to us whether or not we're going to roll up our shirt sleeves and get creative with our friends and loved ones or we're going to fold up the game board, believing we're just no good at the game.

Regardless of where you find yourself this winter, I wish you a blessed season full of warmth,creativity -- and belly laughs with good friends.




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