This past Saturday I attended the Pre-Kwanzaa celebration at South Shore Cultural Center. It is held every year to get people ready for Kwanzaa. This year’s celebration was made even better because Dr. Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa, spoke.

Kwanzaa is the period from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 of each year. It was created to give African Americans and Pan-Africans a cultural connection among one other as well as a celebration of African customs.

Dr. Karenga’s speech was awesome! He spoke on the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Cooperative Work and Responsibility), Ujama (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith)-ideas that no one can deny are beneficial to black people.

As I sat there and listened in a room that was almost 99 percent black, I was proud to see so many faces of people who had come to hear his speech because they not only celebrate Kwanzaa, but also practice it. I know several of the vendors who were there, and it was nice to be so warmly greeted by those I hadn’t seen since last year’s event.

The period of Kwanzaa also made me think of the holiday that occurs right before it-Christmas Day. Of all the gifts you can give for Christmas, why not give a few board games? Why a board game? Because it is one of the best things that the entire family can do together.

A board game is a guarantee that you will spend hours together. There aren’t many rapid versions of Monopoly or Scrabble. But what those games have always done is to allow people to do analytical thinking as well as creative thinking. My fondest memory of my son as a young boy is one where we were playing Monopoly. He had bought Park Place and Boardwalk Avenue. He quickly spent all of his money on houses and then a hotel. Then like most landlords he sat back and waited for me to land on it.

Now as luck would have it, I did land on Boardwalk. His jumps for joy and screams of”Pay me, pay me, pay me!” still ring in my ears today. Especially after I had told him it was foolish to risk so much money to buy houses and then a hotel for a property that people seldom land on. Needless to say, I was bankrupt after that. I had to sell my railroads and other good properties to pay his rent. My son roared with laughter and had his chest stuck out because he had beaten his mom at a game.

For me, playing that board game helped me to see just how my son thought. Whereas I am cautious and calculating, he is a risk-taker. He is more apt to risk it all (which is the unique quality of youth) while I am not. But those times spent together playing games is the quality time that we all need with our children. It is the time they can shine, and we can bask in their limelight.

So as you do your last-minute shopping for Christmas-and have the week following it to put into effect the principles of Kwanzaa-make sure you try a game night with your family. It is still one of the best ways to spend time together.

Merry Christmas to all! And remember to “Celebrate Kwanzaa.”