This past Christmas was one of the best ever for gifts. I know, I know, it’s not
about the loot. Christmas is about family, friends, love, giving and gorging on
all the turkey, ham, stuffing, casseroles, pies, candies, cookies and popcorn tins.
Agreed. But I also love all the gifts.I think I like giving gifts more than receiving. Scouring the Toys R Us
aisles for the perfect gifts to give kids (and adults) is one of my favorite and
most cherished parts of Christmas. But damn if I don’t still love receiving heaping
piles of awesomeness as well.
1992 - The Bestest Christmas Ever
Thank you, Sega CD, for bringing us Lunar: The Silver Star Story--one of my all-time favorites.
Christmas 2010 was a great year for gifts. It still doesn’t match the year my parents
pulled off a miracle and got me a Sega CD, which was damn near impossible to find
during the holiday season of 1992. I put that Christmas on a nostalgic pedestal
that will probably never be topped. I begged for the Sega CD from the time I first
read about it, months earlier, in Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine. I read every
bit of information I could find a hundred times over. I pleaded my case with
my parents every single day and constantly inundated them with cool Sega CD tidbits. I simply had to have this thing or else I would have no
more reason to live. A childhood ruined by the absence of full motion video sewer
"This isn't a game, Lieutenant." Yeah you're right, Ghost. Shooting at video clips isn't a game at all. I was still in awe of real people being in a game.
My parents claimed that they couldn’t afford the Sega CD that Christmas. Any time
I asked, I was subjected to a half-hour dissertation on foreign concepts such as
personal finance. They promised me one later the next year. My spider-sense was
tingling, but the story sounded true. Regardless, I scoured the usual hiding spots:
under their bed, their closet, the spare room, the attic, the car trunk, my Grandma’s
house. Usually I was able to track down most of my gifts, or I at least knew what
was coming, but that year’s investigation turned up nothing. Not even a stray receipt.
On that fateful Christmas morning, I resigned myself to expect a video game and,
perhaps, a pair of socks. They sold me on their tale of woe. When I opened the Sega
CD that was the first time my parents legitimately surprised me with a Christmas
gift in years. They had played me like a tune. To add insult to injury, they hid
the Sega CD, unwrapped, in my closet for weeks. My motherfucking closet. My pride
was hurt. I was 14 and thought I was smarter than them. I didn’t think it was possible
for them to surprise me anymore. But the pain of an intellectual ass-whoopin’ vanished
the instant I connected my new prized possession and indulged in CD-ROM gaming goodness.
I was the happiest kid on Earth.
My Wife and I Don’t Buy Each Other Gifts. What of It?
I need to start with a little clarification. Back in our college days, my wife and I made a decision to not get each other Christmas gifts anymore. What the cock, right? There’s a legit reason: we were poor students, living on Cup-O-Noodles and Lucky Charms, but we always went overboard on the gifts.
Neither one of us could contain our excitement once we purchased the gifts. Weeks
before Christmas, we would wrap our gifts to each other and place them under the
tree and in the stockings. Within hours we were both begging the other to go ahead
open them. Christmas then turned into a dangerous game of credit card balance brinksmanship.
I felt bad that she would have nothing to open from me on Christmas and vice-versa,
so we would buy more gifts—ones that invariably topped the previous gifts. And when
the new round of gifts arrived we would, once again, beg the other to open them
within hours. This cycle repeated itself throughout the months of November and December
right until New Year’s. Then we would spend the next year chipping away at the credit
card bill while getting dinged with 30% interest.
We tried for years to rein in this fun, but destructive tradition. Finally, we agreed
that when it came to buying each other gifts, we had no self-control. Instead of
getting each other gift after gift after gift, we would each buy one thing for ourselves
that we really wanted. We have done this ever since. A lot of people scrunch their
faces like I just let one rip when I tell them that we don’t get each other gifts.
Others try to be more political and say, “oh, that’s…interesting.” All while shooting
me the stinkeye that says I’m a real dick of a husband. Whatever. We both like it
this way and so does our bank account.
Without Further Ado, The Gifts!
This year there was no one gift, like the Sega CD, to rule them all. Christmas 2010
was all about the body of work and I got damn near everything I wanted and so did
everyone else. Opening my gifts and watching my family open all their gifts was
a fucking blast. I only wish that Christmas in July picked up some steam, so we
could do this more often.
I’ll start with my gift to myself. I couldn’t resist the lure of the new Star Wars
book: The Jedi Path. Despite scoffing at its ludicrous $100 price-tag, I desperately
wanted this book. I had never heard of it until Amazon.com smartly emailed me a
link to a video demonstrating the kick ass packaging right before its release. They
know a sucker when they data mine one. I waited, not altogether patiently, for a
50% off coupon and got it from Borders. Chalk one up for the good guys!
The book is entombed in a silver container that slowly opens and elevates it with
all sorts of Star Wars sounds. Observe. If you’re a Star Wars geek like I am,
you better grab
something to wipe with.
The awesome doesn’t just stop at the casing either. The Jedi Path contains all sorts
of Star Wars trinkets like a padawan braid, Jedi coin, starfighter patch, and a
napkin with a drawing of a lightsaber on it. It’s essentially a Jedi textbook. I
have devoured half of the book so far and it’s much more entertaining than I ever
expected—I just wanted it for the case and the junk inside. The best feature is
the in-character commentary scribbled in the margins. As the story goes, this particular
copy of The Jedi Path was passed down the line of Jedi that includes Yoda, Count
Dooku, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, the Emperor, and Luke, among others. Each
of these characters fill the pages with their own observations on the topic at hand. The
commentary even overshadows much of the content. It is usually much more interesting
to see what Yoda has to say about the Three Pillars of the Jedi than reading the
The commentary left by Ahsoka, unfortunately, is superfluous at best. I found myself
just skipping her ditzy, nonsensical annotations entirely. If you watch the Clone
Wars, then you know Ahsoka’s schtick. She is Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice. She’s
also a cookie-cutter, stereotypical, American teenage girl only she’s a Togruta
–think alien with striped head tails. Her comments in the book are probably what
any 14-year-old girl would write, which is frivolous, Facebooky, bullshit. I
haven’t run into any smilies in her comments, but I still have another half to read.
The others’ comments, especially the Emperor’s comically evil thoughts, are a joy
My Wall of Awesome. See those lightsabers? The Jedi Path is cooler than any of them.
Overall, this book is packed with little surprises and in-character touches such
as the missing chapter about The Prophecy that the Emperor ripped out. Of all my
Star Wars junk, this is the new crown jewel of my collection. If you wax geekily
at all things Star Wars, then try to find this for $60 or less. You’ll love it.
Revoltech’s Rei from Evangelion. This was from my sister-in-law. She always calls
me a creeper, so after opening this gift I felt obligated to live up to my billing.
I posed Rei in the most obscene poses I could manage with her 18-points of articulation
and then proudly revealed each masterpiece to her. My parents bought me this Rei toy
as well, so I have a sealed extra if anyone wants to trade.
I got the Back to the Future DVD boxset on the day it was released a few years ago. My fanaticism
for the series was rewarded with versions of the film that were cropped. It was
widescreen, but the top and bottom of the original image was chopped off. I probably
never would have noticed, but once it was pointed out, I could never watch the set
again. Universal offered to replace the sets for free, but for some reason *coughlazinesscough*,
I never did. Now I finally have a pristine copy of one of my Top 10 movies of all
time. It also includes all the footage from the Universal Studios ride, which isn't nearly as fun to watch when the whole room doesn't move. Perhaps whiskey would help. I got Dogma, which is my favorite Kevin Smith movie ever as well as
Project Blue Earth SOS a cool looking sci-fi anime
series. To top things off, I used my Best Buy gift cards to grab the V - Season
One boxset. I got hooked on this series when they aired the first four episodes,
but I never picked it back up when the rest of the season aired like five fucking
popcorn tin is the undisputed Christmas Treat Champion of the World, the King of Christmas
Junk Food. I always close out the holiday season by vegging on the couch and
watching football on New Year’s weekend while embracing a giant metal canister
of popcorn. That’s my happy place. I saw a disturbing trend this year: none of
the Target stores that I went to carried a traditional popcorn tin. They were
all "gourmet" flavors.
Look popcorn tin maker, I don’t want jalapeno, green apple, cinnamon, or vanilla
flavored popcorn. Just keep it butter, cheese, and caramel.
Carnivorous Plant Kit. I used to have a Venus Fly Trap in college, and I loved feeding
it dead things. I fed it a live bug once, but I felt awful about it. Eaten by a
plant—what a horrible, humiliating death. His fly buddies in bug heaven will
give him shit about that for eternity and it's all my fault. Ever since my Venus Fly Trap died from a
hard freeze, I have wanted another. Now I have all the bug eating plants in the
world! If I can manage grow them anyway. And that’s the major obstacle.
This past year, I fell way behind on my gaming. A queue of games to finish towers
next to my TV, but I’m finally making some progress. There were three games this
holiday season that I really wanted: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Fallout: New
Vegas, and Call of Duty: Black Ops. I got them all! Now I have to
beat them all before Dragon Age 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic
That covers what I’m willing to blog about. Get your minds out of the gutter,
weirdos. I only left out the clothes, gift cards, and necklaces and such. Did any of you get anything
cool (link if you’ve already written about it)?