Family, Duty, Honor. But This Isn’t Game of Thrones.

“Monopoly, anyone?” It was always the game we played up at the lake, when everyone was around. A few times we tried Risk; group Solitaire was always a family favorite. But it was always Monopoly that got everyone going.

Every year we would go up to our cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks and play this game of Monopoly. Before we kids grew up, no one really knew anything about fiscal conservatisms or capitalism. The cousins and I would just kind of bought up properties and sold them at a whim while playing this game of Monopoly. Tempers flew when someone lost but couldn’t figure out that having all four train stations paled in comparison to having a monopoly on the all three red spaces.

Now, however, the strategy was plotted before the game even started. Secret trade deals were made that would make Mr. Moneybags roll over in his grave. It’s the better knowledge of how to play the game and cheat your family members out of their money that makes the game that much more fun and infuriating.

But Monopoly is not the only reason we go to the lake, nor the lake the only place we go. My family likes to uphold an annual schedule of things, so every August my grandmother comes up from Maryland and my surrounding aunts, uncles and cousins all congregate under my roof in Massachusetts. While we are all together we go on the annual trip to Powder Point in Duxbury, make the annual trek to the beach, have the annual ice cream cone at Farfar’s, and feast the annual feast at Red Lobster in Plymouth.

This past summer, however, we had an addition to the crew: my brother’s girlfriend, Claire. Claire is by no means a new addition; she was there at our last Monopoly game, she went down with my brother to visit my grandmother just this month, and she was there the day we spread my grandfather’s ashes up at the lake.
trash-throne

This was her first experience of the annuals, and she was starting to fit in, until the last night everyone was here, when everything got a bit out of hand.

It should be noted that my grandmother is a news junky, or rather a politics junky. Now, without diving too deeply into politics (this isn’t Game of Thrones or one of those articles), politics are all she talks about. It can be a bit overbearing, and, along with most of my family, she is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum from Claire.

A conversation started during hors d’oeuvres. A comment was made about how the media had focused in on an Olympian woman who had won a fencing match while wearing a hijab. While my uncles and mother claimed that the feat itself, a Muslim woman winning the gold metal, was the real accomplishment, Claire argued that the symbol of the hijab was just as important. Words of oppressive religious practices were thrown around and the conversation got a little heated. Claire got backed into a wall, being the only one who had her own separate view.

Seeing my brother’s girlfriend sit there and squirm under the pressure to support her views made me cringe. It was like Monopoly up at the lake, but this wasn’t a game and we weren’t dealing with paper money. I spoke up in her defense.

I said that while writing, an author or journalist often times wants something to pull from, a symbol that ties it together and makes the point clearer. Metaphor is one of the greatest tools of the human language and allows for easier flow of understanding. The use of the hijab was a metaphorical crutch for the article’s message.

My family just went on arguing, but Claire shot me a thankful look.

***

Later, after my aunts and uncles had gone back to their respective homes and we had seen my grandma off back to Maryland, my mom expressed a concern to me. She said, “I don’t like being at odds with my family.” She went on to describe the scene after the confrontation, when everyone had left the room and only her and my brother remained. My brother had approached my mom about her views and how much they differed from his own, a shock to her.

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, mom.”

“Yes, but I’m afraid that your brother feels challenged by us. I did not mean for that to come up with Claire. I was relieved when Uncle Mark changed the topic to sports. I just don’t want you two to feel distant from all of us because we have differing political views.”

“Mother, you wound me. You know how much we love our family.”

To prove our loyalty, a month later my brother and I went and got matching tattoos: a combination of our family crest and the shield of the Blue Angels, the group in which my grandfather had flown in during Korea.


Chris Largent is currently employed as a Content Marketing Specialist for HMI Performance Incentives, Chris writes copy for various clients in the form of email and print marketing. While employed as an intern at Hudson Valley Public Relations, Chris helped to write blog articles about an assortment of relevant ideas in the Public Relation, Marketing and Advertisement industries. These blogs are all about stimulate business health and growth. In his time at Hudson Valley Public Realtions, Chris wrote an assortment of content for the firm’s clients, ranging from law to finance. He also worked on projects within HVPR to help promote events and articles through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. In his free time, Chris likes to write, read and hike.

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