The things I enjoy doing with my family the most can be ranked as follows:
1. Sitting around the dining room table sipping beverages, eating snacks, and playing games.
2. Sitting around in the living room sipping beverages, eating snacks, and chatting.
We got to do plenty of both while I was in Bradford, but we fundamentally redefined the first. Ever since my family started playing games--which was near the end of my childhood if I remember correctly :(--we have pretty much always stayed inside a pretty safe little realm of gaming. It started with Uno. When we got a little tired of playing Uno, it shifted to dominoes. And there the great experiment ended.
I love playing Uno and dominoes with my family, but those are both pretty passive games. You are dealt a hand which dictates your actions for you, and from there you have relatively little ability to affect the game in any significant way. Being with good company is what makes those games enjoyable more than the gameplay itself.
That said, my family always got excited by throwing monkey wrenches: failing to close a double domino, opening up the lines, and wreaking havoc on each other's plans in dominoes; stacking draw cards and watching the first person who doesn't have one squirm in Uno. Since Kerry and I got Citadels and Settlers of Catan for Christmas, we decided to push the envelope a bit and try to teach some new tricks.
I suppose it still just feels awkward to entertain the notion of actually teaching my parents anything, so I was intimidated...scared that they wouldn't like it or see it is not worth learning. But it ended up being a big hit. Loren was skeptical about Catan, Mom was afraid it would be too complicated, and Dad thought it wouldn't be fun. But once we got into the swing of things, we played it for...er...somewhere around thirteen hours over two days. And then we even played a hand of Citadels.
These are the kinds of games that I love. In one game, Dad and Kerry formed a solid trading alliance and collaborated to cut Loren off from her resources and destroy me and Mom's production capacity with the robber. In another, Loren managed to build three roads and a settlement in one turn in order to cut Kerry off from a port she was after. Loren and I ended up in a road building war and Mom managed to steal all the brick. It was down to her winning the game unless I managed to do it in one turn. I lacked some resources, but a very disgruntled Kerry did not. :)
Good times, great memories...I predict that Mom, Dad, and Loren will own their own Settlers of Catan within a month.