It has been my experience that gamers everywhere have a special corner in their heart for the holidays reserved just for gaming memories.
I think that is a piece of the modern human experience that bonds us together despite a whole year of bickering, raging, and thoughtful disagreement. The experience often includes the dreamy haze of nostalgia but can also feel entirely fresh in the moment as the years go by and we can pass this special space onto others.
It is Christmas Eve as I write this, but I of course reach out to our whole PSXE community. I know we have Muslims, Jews, atheists, adherents to the Kwanzaa remembrance of African traditions, and all manner of diverse believers here. I don't think that separates us in any way when it comes to gaming-centric memories.
A student I tutor who doesn't celebrate Christmas because of his religion is still getting a gift. He kept asking me if I knew what a “weeze” was. I of course told him I had no idea, and he said nobody knows. Every day he still asked if it was Christmas yet and about the wheeze. One day it just struck me when he said “You're a grown-up and you don't know what a weeze is?” It clicked, I said “You mean a Wii?” Yup that was it, he said his dad might get him one soon. It brought back plenty of my own memories about Nintendo consoles and games. It's fun to have that extra connection with the kids that are also gamers.
I once asked an atheist friend of mine if she felt nothing positive about the spirit of humanity during the season and she said she felt it, that goodness was certainly at work. Whether you are a young gamer still getting gifts from your folks and wishing for that special game or console (remember this hobby is expensive), or an adult doing your damnedest to re-create the special gaming memories you had as a kid with your own children, we all are connected by a desire to make seasonal and holiday gifts a part of the experience of good will toward man.
It seems counter intuitive to the narrative surrounding gaming today. Games get the blame for mass shootings. Games get the blame for our youth not being active. Games get the blame for addictions. Games get the blame for the difficulty of young men to grow up. However true or untrue any of those things are you and I know that there are spots of light in our hearts that include gaming memories which cannot be replaced by any other thing on earth.
Why? Because games are experiences themselves. They exist as an object in the real world and have a world inside them. If you attach the fact that you have gotten a gift from a loved one that brings you a whole extra world to play in, one that you've wanted a long time, one that impresses you and excites you, then the memory is unique. An action figure or a sled can't deliver the utter and complete awe I experienced when seeing Mario in full 3D on that Christmas that my brother and I received the Nintendo 64.
When we get these experiences they stick, and so those worlds and their surrounding circumstances as a gift stick in our minds making memories that we cherish for life, memories that always surface at this time of year. I tell my stories when I have a mind to: A Gameboy all to myself that I snuck all around the house to confirm before Christmas, the time my brother and I expertly removed Super Mario Bros 2 from its wrapping, played it the night before Christmas and got it back in the wrapping for the big day. I remember how scared we were even though I know now we wouldn't have gotten in any trouble, not reall. Then there's the time when I wanted to get Zelda Ocarina of Time and my parents couldn't find it, then my sister who I am not close with got me in her car and drove me all over the state to find a place where they had just one left. I'll never forget that time together in the car, especially now that she finds her life in a difficult spot.
I don't have kids, but seeing a Mario game in the hands of a niece over the holidays is a heart warming experience. I'll bet some members here have stories about giving games to their kids, playing together, and being brought back in time through the magic of our connection during the gift giving season. Even if the story is nothing but what happened in your mind while you wrapped up a familiar title for your little one or a nostalgic trip you'd like to share I'd like to open up the comments to the community to go ahead and share your stories. Even if you did last year, share them again.
The PSXE community is unlike any other, we fight and agree, we argue beliefs and come together, but no matter the differences our memories of gaming during the season is a tie that holds everyone together. Please share anything you have whether heart warming, funny, or diabolical.
Let's just confirm that this hobby is as integral to this time of year as Rudolph, Frosty, and Charlie Brown 🙂