The Christmas Party was a smashing good time, I say. I was generally unimpressed with the gifts that I got for my siblings and nieces and nephews, as my shopping had to occur almost primarily in Meijer and Wal-Mart since they are the only places open after I get off of work at 11. However, it appears that through the crappy selection, I did manage to find some winners. The most popular gift that I purchased was a Don't Break the Ice game for my nephew Oscar. Oscar is two, and thus below the recommended age for the game, but I figured he would like it because he enjoys hitting things with hammers.
As it turns out, there are two schools of thought for Don't Break the Ice. First, Oscar wanted to play it. Oscar plays it by singing songs about Don't Break the Ice that he extemporaneously composes while the ice is being loaded in to the stand, and then smashing the ice through the stand as quickly and violently as possible, ripping the ice skater off of his special block, and then spreading the cubes to the four corners of the room before the process gets repeated. It is quite cute and not at all irritating for the adult who is charged with loading the ice stand, I assure you. Oscar's favorite song is Elton John's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", so I'm thinking the tunes he was singing were derivatives of it but about ice instead of hearts. It was impressive and endearing at any rate. Ivy is also a fan of this school, but while Oscar likes to hit the ice with the hammer, Ivy is a fan of prying them up from below.
Later, after Oscar had been successfully distracted from the game and thus saving everyone else from having to spend the entire afternoon reloading the stand, Phoebe, my two year old niece who did indeed enjoy the makeshift gift I threw together for her, decided to play. I managed to successfully explain the rules to her, and she was out to win. I can safely say that Phoebe is a burgeoning Don't Break the Ice Grandmaster. She has a feathery touch that allows her to oh so slowly tap the block she's aiming for out without knocking out any others, an impressive grasp of the strategy for a two year old, and the competitive streak of Ricky Bobby. First place, I was told, gets a trophy. Second place gets a stinky sock.
I'll admit it, the first time I played her, I was outclassed. I was using a quick strike, in an attempt to get the block out cleanly with minimal contact on the others, but it was no match for Phoebe's water torture style. The game ended when she hit a block that was certain to cause the poor skater to go tumbling to the ground, only it didn't, and that left absolutely no targets for me, and I sent the guy to a watery grave. The second game ended much the same way, with a "how is that possible?" move from Phoebe and me knocking the guy under. Then she played Lacey, a 6 year old stepniece, and invoked a new strategy of mirroring all of Lacye's moves, and beat her three straight times. Then she beat me again before I finally got a win. I managed to refrain from letting out my dad's Derogatory Victory Yell of Triumphant Loudness that can be heard for three blocks that he always inflicted on us when we lost at a game.
I also received a board game of my own, Cranium, and as soon as I can find 3 friends to play with, I think it'll be a fun one. My main problem is that I seem to share Strong Sad's attitude toward board games and people.