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Yule Time Reflections
Posted on Sunday, December 28 2008 @ 03:30:49 Eastern

'Tis the season to be jolly, or so the saying goes. I think it's a bit silly to give any one season special privilege over jolliness. What about Summer and Fall? Between lazing the days away at the pool and watching the leaves turn, there's plenty to be jolly about year 'round. Winter does have a distinct advantage in the game of merrymaking, though; presents. The Easter Bunny may raid chicken coops in some confused attempt at pleasing you and it's hard to say “no” to the mountains of free candy offered on Halloween, but neither compare to the giftsplosion that is the “holiday season.”

No, everyone doesn't get to share the joy of having their consumerist wishes granted each December, but they'll always have rebroadcasts of It's A Wonderful Life to keep them off that bridge railing. For the luckier ones, like myself, there's there are the joys of giving and receiving. Some folks surely find the most pleasure in taking advantage of this yearly opportunity to feel selflessness like only a missionary or genie would usually know. Giving isn't really my bag, though. Rather than reveling in fulfilling the desires of another, I'm prone to fretting their reaction. I'm not afraid to say that receiving is the end of the bargain I look forward to. The anticipation of seeing what lies under that tree has always been worth more to me than any gift, though unwrapping something totally badass doesn't hurt.

It was one such badass gift that I unwrapped at the age of seven that had more impact on my life than anything else I can recall. The precious parcel I speak of was a second generation Sega Genesis. This Genesis wasn't my family's first game console- it wasn't even our first Genesis- but, I was only then old enough to appreciate what it had to offer.

Years prior, my older brother mortally wounded our original Genesis' cartridge slot in a fit of rage. My friends and I wished to play video games; he wanted us out of his way and destroying our communal gaming system seemed like a wise decision to him. This came just a few years after my older sister had tripped over a controller cord connected to our NES, causing it to plummet from a shelf to it's death. With such destructive forces in my life, my earliest years were largely spent game free. That tide turned on Christmas day in 1994, though.

Ironically, we had a fairly vast collection of Genesis games. A friend of our first Genesis' murderer had left his library of software at our house shortly before moving out of state. These games were left to collect dust in the dark time between that console's demise and the arrival of its replacement. With a California cold front moving in outside and our heater fighting it off indoors, these games found new life. Just a couple years ago, my mind was solely focused on dinosaurs. Thanks to my parents and Sega, they were as extinct in my thoughts as in reality.

That Christmas was spent saving Iraq from tyranny like no Bush could in Desert Strike, blasting through Casino Night Zone in Sonic 2, throwing the long ball in Joe Montana Football, and taking the fight to Death Adder in Golden Axe. Sold on the hype of “Blast Processing” and truly believing that Sega does what Nintendon't, I quickly became a died in the wool Sega fanboy.

The holiday season of 1994 marked my rapid transition from a passive admirer of video games to a blue blooded console-warrior. Time has passed and my tastes matured and diversified, but even now I get a nostalgic tingle up my spine at the sound of the Green Hill Zone theme that the Mario Medley will never provide.

With that maturing, my expectations of Christmas presents concealing high-tech magic that's usually saved for my dreams have diminished. There's no fault in that, though. The more certain I am that a gift won't impact my life again as that Genesis has, the more value and joy I find in revisiting those halcyon days when an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog managed to outrun my imagination.

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