I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me, Christmas just isn’t what it used to be. That is, a full month of anticipation slowly gaining steam into rabid impatience culminating in a berserk frenzy of presents-opening. Sure, I was pretty focused on the materialistic gains. But the holiday just felt special somehow. As I got older, and especially as I became more able to buy my own stuff, the jubilation at getting a bunch of new stuff subsided. Then came the year Mom left out cold french fries and water for Santa instead of milk and cookies. She wasn’t fooling anybody, though. We all knew it was my parents behind the presents on Christmas morning. Also, I was 20. Mom’s really into traditions.
That’s not the point. The point is, it feels like it all changed. I cringe when I hear Christmas music now, a result of having worked at a Radio Shack during the holidays in 1995. I hate seeing the Christmas decorations go up in department stores the day after Halloween. I love my family and my in-laws, but it’s stressful dragging your toddler to celebrate Christmas multiple times every year. I’m annoyed by the repeated festive shotgun blasts of joyous holiday messages on TV that just don’t feel realistic or sincere, and then I feel like a Dire Grinch. And nobody wants that. (Fun holiday fact: a Dire Grinch’s heart has to grow at least five sizes in one day before he starts performing good deeds. Also, he is one size class larger than a standard Grinch and his sled is pulled by a worg with an antler tied to its forehead.)
I’m fully aware of the fact that growing up ruined this just like everything else. It’s easy to enjoy Christmas when you don’t have to do anything except for flip out after you open the thing you totally wanted that you’ve been going on endlessly about since late August. It’s so easy to look at the world with scorn and sarcasm, and let all the stuff that annoys the crap out of you overshadow everything else, and I think that’s where my Christmas went. Crushed under the enormous pressure of a bunch of annoying crap, and turned to coal. And you thought it was naughty children that got that. Add one more bitter yule log to the fire.
I want my damned Christmas back. The one I enjoyed and looked forward to. I may not get that, but what I can do is use this red-and-green-hued mass hysteria to my advantage. There are two times of the year one is most likely to get presents: one’s birthday, and Christmas. Only during the latter are people prone to fits of needing to feel togetherness at all costs. This is when you can strike.
Now all you have to do is ask for games for Christmas, and talk people into playing them with you.
That’s right, my nefarious Christmas scheme is to get people together to play games. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because a couple years ago, I borrowed a Wii just so I could get my whole family together on Christmas to play Wii Bowling. It was the first time we’d played videogames together since I was a kid and we all played Time Pilot and Ladybug on the Colecovision. I’m not even remotely exaggerating when I say it was the very best Christmas I’d had since I was a kid. For those couple hours, it was fun again, and it was special because I knew I wouldn’t have this chance very often. This year, I got a Kinect, and I would like to engage in similar Christmas shenanigans. I’ve tried a couple times since then to pull this off again, but never to the same effect. I suppose this will be the unattainable goal I chase after instead of reliving the innocent joy of a child on Christmas. You gotta have one, right?
On a smaller scale, this is also a great excuse to play with my family. Specifically, the portion of it that lives in my house. My son’s only 2, and the games we play together may not make a particularly large amount of sense, but they’re still a lot of fun. Once he recovers from the initial shock of getting ten thousand Hot Wheels cars for Christmas from the grandparents, I don’t doubt his little imagination is going to invent several new kinds of racing. I cannot freaking wait until he’s old enough that one of us opens an Xbox game and we’re both giddy that we can play it together. And I’m not afraid to bust out some old-school Scrabble or Monopoly to play with relatives who don’t consider themselves Gamers (with a capital G). I’d kill to play games all day over Christmas break with my wife and kid. (And I wouldn’t regret it, even with faced with the electric chair!)
It’s always been odd to me (and a giant pain in my ass) that the Christmas season seems to nuke the crap out of everyone’s availability to play D&D with their friends. Especially since I had my regular group break up about a year ago due to people moving and other real-life obstacles, it hits me directly in the face how much I miss getting together with them too. I don’t care how many puppies save Christmas or how many sitcoms show me the “true” meaning of the season. I don’t care what kind of fake togetherness crap is being served in the fruitcake. I don’t even care if any games actually get played. I just want to have fun with the people I care about. It’s what a good Christmas means to me now.
God bless us, every one (giving us +1 to attack).
And rocks fall on any creepy uncles, killing them instantly. No save.