The Year I Ruined Christmas

The Year I Ruined Christmas

There's nothing better than getting a brand new console on Christmas morning. What happens though when that big box under the tree contains something else?

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I can't say I ever had that feeling, because Christmas was the holiday my parents went all out for. We weren't rich growing up, but my parents worked and saved to make sure Christmas was good. I didn't know exactly how much they sacrificed when I was a kid, not until I was much older and looked back at things. I got an NES in 1986, and we had just a few games for a while. That was Christmas and my birthday rolled into one (birthday is about exactly 6 months from Christmas) and I didn't care. I still have that NES, but it sat in the living room for years. My dad and I played it together, he was a master of Ghosts n' Goblins and Metroid.
Anyway I got off topic a bit... my parents used to heavily budget to make Christmas work out. We were spread thin the rest of the year just barely making utilities and rent (later mortgage) but when December rolled up it felt like we were the richest family in the neighborhood. Might just be that I had a family that really was really good and I'm really thankful for that. Our financial status never seemed to matter because we just had that good family dynamic and I really feel bad for those who didn't experience that.
I did have to split my time between my parents (Dad and Stepmom) and my biological mother. That part did suck since she lived 300+ miles away and was a horribly bitter person. That part of the holidays was usually filled with screaming fights and bad juju.
But anyway when the N64 was released I happened to be working for K-Mart and picked one up along with Shadows of the Empire (best release game ever).
I never threw fits or anything, but I did have friends who did so, who really didn't appreciate what they had. I can kinda understand your story though, divorce is tough and doesn't help our emotions settle quite right. Especially as kids as we don't know how to handle it properly, or sometimes at all since parents probably don't know how to explain it well enough (or at all).

I just got absorbed reading your story. I can relate very well to what you describe, having also had a troubled relationship with my stepfather (no rarity I guess), and being somewhat meek and shy as a boy, whereas my stepdad was basically a German version of Charlton Heston.

Also, I think most of us have had their N64 moment in their lives. Don't be too hard on yourself. We grew up as spoiled (in the great scheme of things) 1st world, western kids, and we just didn't know any better. :D

I'm not a big fan of Christmas time either. Or rather, i have an ambiguous relationship with it. On the one hand, I enjoy the month of December, because every town in Germany has it's own Christmas Market, and I love going there to look at all the trinkets and smell all the spices and to enjoy the food and drink (especially the Glühwein). But on the other hand I don't like all the obligations and the commercialism associated with Christmas. You have to make all these family visits, attend dinners, do conversation with so many people, all compressed in a very short time frame. Of course, you have to find a present for everyone, you have to buy a Christmas tree, decorate your house, you have to be cheerful and merry.. in the end, for me, a large part of it is stress and I am glad when it's over and life returns to normal.

I guess that even though I've opened up and become more self-assertive and adventurous with age, at the heart I'm still a bit of a loner and an introvert. Christmas is not kind to my kind.

Anyway, thanks for your story.

This was a very endearing slice-of-life story.

Reminds one of all the times that, as a child, we didn't understand adulthood.

Kind of makes you thankful to be older and wiser. (And capable of buying your own consoles and pursuing your own hobbies).

Ouch. I bet it feels good to get that off your chest, though. Hopefully.

Yep, those moments are the most uncomfortable ones, the ones that make you sit up and go "argh, argh, why, I didn't, oh no I did, aaaaargh..." at night. looking back, I'm surprised how much hot air I held in my tiny lungs as a kid. The respect I have for my parents has probably doubled over the years when I consider just how much they've put up with and how much they've taught me.

Oh gods, the N64 was so good when it first came out!

The Year I Ruined Christmas

There's nothing better than getting a brand new console on Christmas morning. What happens though when that big box under the tree contains something else?

Read Full Article

so I'm curious, after it was stolen, did he still hold you to the no-allowance thing?

Sounds like your Dad handled it pretty well, I try to be patient with my own Son but if he did that I would have said something along the lines of "right you little shit! You don't like your present? Well your not having it then!" and stomped off with the skates and smacked em with a hammer to work my temper off somewhere privately.


The Year I Ruined Christmas

There's nothing better than getting a brand new console on Christmas morning. What happens though when that big box under the tree contains something else?

Read Full Article

so I'm curious, after it was stolen, did he still hold you to the no-allowance thing?


Indeed he did! I didn't completely lose out though. Homeowner's insurance sent us a check for the stolen property a few months later. I replaced it and got Goldeneye instead of Star Fox 64.

I did something similar when I was about 7/8 for a PS1.

I felt REALLY bad about it afterwards, and ended up spending like the next two months doing every chore I could think of and acting like a maid for my old man because of it.

Not something I'm proud of, but in my defense I was a kid and my father never did say 'NO' when I asked if I was going to get one.
In 'kid logic' that always means 'yep, but it's a surprise'.

While not to this scale, I do vaguely remember a similar disappointment on Sinterklaas, our local equivalent of Santa (you may have heard about the Black Pete-thing). This was back when I believed he was real, you see. And my parents did not make your dad's "mistake", and had let me know that an RC car was too expensive a gift to ask Sinterklaas.

That year we celebrated Sinterklaas together with another family. My parents bought the presents for us, the other family bought the presence for their kids, we were just together for the unwrapping of gifts. You can probably see where this is going. I think my parents tried to explain that cause the other kid was an only child, Sinterklaas didn't have to spread the money for his family around so much or something.

Another amusing incident, which the notion of "obsessing over the comming gift" reminded me off was the time when, while driving to our vacation destination, I saw a really cool toy car on sale in a big petrol station about half the way between our house and our destination. My parents said, presumably after some whining on my part, they'd buy it on the way back, on the condition that I didn't nag about it during the vacation. I really wanted the car, so I kept to the deal. That my parents wouldn't keep that toy car on the front of their minds for two or three weeks of vacation as I would wasn't something my young mind had considered. And they didn't consider that, by making the purchase conditional on me never speaking of it, I wouldn't dare to bring it up until after we'd passed the petrol station.

Reading such a deep article has moved me to relate a Christmas disappointment story (though one with a happy ending).

It was the Christmas of 97. For the past few years I'd been getting more and more into computers (though consoles were still a strong love) but had been making do with my dad's old desktop. It hadn't bothered me too much though; I knew my family weren't well off and while that didn't stop me from wishing for an awesome PC I knew better than to expect one.

Anyway, Christmas morning came and I immediately gravitated to the "main" gift. This year it looked quite small and flat which made me feel a touch sad... till I opened it and it was the new Tomb Raider 2 game. I was happy that they'd got me it but I knew it'd never work on the desktop I had - for a start, the desktop I had only had a floppy drive!

I smiled and thanked them, but my dad asked "Is everything ok?" so I confessed that while I liked it, I wouldn't be able to play it due to the poor specs of the current desktop. My dad got frustrated, saying he was sorry but that he promised he'd get me a decent PC later in the year.

My mum then asked me to drop some presents off to the neighbours which I did. Ill confess that while I walked through the snow, I was a little bit pissed off. It seemed like a bit of a slap in the face, but I kept it together. Just as well because when I got back in the house, there was a brand new PC set up on the living room floor with my parents grinning behind it.

I never liked Christmas really. I was kind of indifferent to it as a child, and as a teenager, I really dislike it.

There's a certified guarantee that my brother will bring one of his friends around, and that the two of them will get drunk. We've had enough incidents in the past, ranging in extremity to understand that him drinking excessively is a bad idea, but since he is built like a brick shithouse, we can't really tell him to stop without resorting to emotional/familial manipulation(which I never like).

It's also an entire day where I have to be on my 'best' behaviour, which is also tiresome.

The best christmas gift I ever got though... that's a funny story.

This was a long time ago: back when Battlefront II was released. I was a child, but my parents didn't understand age ratings and such since our country of origin was crap in regards to censoring content for minors. I asked (in a letter to Santa, though I already knew who I was really addressing, even if my parents were none the wiser) for Battlefront II as a Christmas gift, since I played the hell out of the on-disk demo (for some game or other, I can't remember) and enjoyed it immensely.

So, on Christmas, I get a wrapped copy of a game. Now, my parents were never great with English, and they knew it, so if they made a mistake, it was cool to point it out. They must've misread my letter or something, because instead of BFII, I got Knights of The Old Republic II.

I said that this was the wrong game, and they said "okay, let's go and get the right one and exchange this". I went along with it, though surprisingly enough, the place where they got it(I think it was either Curry's or PCWorld) didn't do refunds. I kept the game regardless, though I was a bit disappointed.

I gave the game a go at home, and I found it boring.(I was really young, to put it in perspective, probably <11 years old). I cached the game away, and I just played something else instead. I eventually bought Battlefront II at a later date, and had a blast with it.

Now...why is this the best Christmas gift ever? Because years later(at least 2 or 3 years later), I gave the game another go. This time, I had a way better understanding of English, and I had a more refined taste in games.

Holy shit was that game awesome :D

The first stage (Peragus) was still uncanny and scary to me, but I persevered through it, and got to Telos. Everything after leaving that first area was just pure brilliance. I played the game for hours on end, and did multiple playthroughs to boot. Every single planet was amazing and rich: the dialogue was really good and the atmosphere was top-notch.

Bear in mind that this was the Xbox version, and whilst there were occasional problems, it was an amazing experience. To this day, it remains my favourite RPG of all time, and unlike my other favourite games from that console generation, it still holds up as a classic, and can rival almost any other RPG in my opinion.

It was the best gift ever because it wasn't clear exactly how great it was at the time. It was a masterful stroke of luck, and it's safe to say that KoTOR II played a huge part in my gaming preferences and everything else that goes along with it(design-philosophy, stance on games journalism, everything leads back to KoTOR II).

EDIT: Also just finished reading that article. I was the complete opposite in that regard: I was always too nervous to ask my parents of anything, since it felt like I was doing something unnecessary or stupid.

With my dad...well we never connected either, and it's a similar situation. The difference being though that he still lives in Lithuania, whereas I reside in England. I only ever see him for about a month every year, and whilst he's happy that I turned out tall and that my grades are good, I still feel like I'm not doing anything to make him proud.

The worse part is with my mother though. We have our ups and downs, though there is a clear problem of us not understanding one another. Growing up shy and introverted with attachment problems(whole other story, one that is long and one that I'm not prepared to go into), I didn't fully connect with my mother who was headstrong, loud and sociable. That and after a certain age, she began seeing my gaming habits as a childish addiction. Up to about 13 or so, she was sort of fine with it(since I never lost sleep; had consistently high grades and I always did my homework, though I was bone-idle, unfit and inactive).

After that though, she began seeing it as a real problem, ie: "when is he going to grow out of it", frequently saying that I am not in control and that I'm being brainwashed by my computer, etc. To add to this, my secondary school years were hell. Year 7 was pretty bad since I made little to no friends, but I didn't think much about it. Year 8 was pretty bad since I got bullied more consistently, which went on into Year 9. By Year 10 though, the bullies began realising that getting good grades is suddenly important, so I began getting respected more than before; it also helped that I suddenly became one of the tallest in my year(though I was never short anyway).

That helped to boost my confidence slightly, but the earlier years remained. I had built up defense mechanisms to help me deal with my social problems, such as distancing myself from others and trusting no-one.

Since I never saw any reason to stop, it carried on into my familial life, and still does to this day. My parents truly know very little about me: don't know the names of any of my friends, what I like to do aside from gaming, politics, there was even a point where they were questioning my sexuality since I never showed any direct interest in women around them... the list goes on and on.

Now I have to deal with a mess with my family. They have an idea of who I am, and it is completely false. This is very troublesome almost all the time, though I cannot blame anyone else but myself in getting into this situation. Though then again, they never encouraged a trustworthy environment at home anyway. My brother and mother frequently told me how easy things are for me since I don't live in Lithuania, how I am useless for not knowing how to cook and that I am an absolute loser for playing games and preferring to stay inside.

I truly wish I could talk to them, though that time is long past. I get the distinct feeling that they don't want to talk, since they are incredibly stubborn, so I'd just be giving them fuel to use against me.

I never liked Christmas. For my parents it was a time to get as much stuff as possible to feel better about how bad they were at being parents for the rest of the year. Then later after they stopped caring about that it just became an excuse for my mom to get drunk and vent her hatred at the relatives that came to her house then spend the night crying about how no one liked her. My dad in turn never bothered to care about my interests and hobbies so I would usually get a handful of things that was vaguely relevant to things I liked while my cousins that lived 300 miles away got sent the more expensive gifts through the mail and loved him for it. But It wasn't the gifts I cared about but just not the day exploding into drama. That happened probably once that I remember. So for me the sooner christmas gtfo's the happier I'll be.

EDIT: I will say this thoughfor about 3 years me and my brothers have been in charge of christmas and its been far more enjoyable since we all have our own income and really like each other, and we spend it at my oldest brothers house instead of theirs.

I can't remember a year I didn't get exactly what I wanted, I supposed it helped that my birthday is about a week before christmas as well. I was a spoiled brat in hindsight, only focused on getting the things I wanted (I almost threw a fit when my brother opened his PS2 when I wanted a gamecube, only to feel incredibly silly when the next present I opened was a gamecube) I like to think I've gotten alot better since then, taking care to keep the list of things I want reasonable and not getting upset if I don't get them

I was always pretty happy with what I got at Christmas. I wasn't too spoiled, but I more often than not got what was on my list. Anything I didn't just had to wait. It was often good times. Though, one year wasn't exactly perfect. I wanted 3 things, a game I wanted, some portable mini speakers, and something else I forget. The amount of presents we got was a bit smaller than normal, but that was fine. What the biggest problem was... All 3 things were just *slightly* off. The game was for the wrong system, the speakers were desktop ones, and the third gift wasn't exactly right either. We did get everything switched up to what I wanted, but I do remember being visually upset/sad that day. It was REALLY hard to hide it.

The rest of the day was great, though. But there was a bit of an air afterwards. I did try to be grateful though. The fact they still went to the lengths to get what was on my list (Though slightly different) was great. I am grateful to them for trying, like they do every year

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure we all have something we did when we were younger that we really regret looking back.

Don't beat yourself up too much mate, we've all had those moments where we act stupid, even once we're 'grown up'. That's life.

This reminds me of one of my childhood memories, when I was young I never had a console or PC, TV was all we had and my experience with gaming was at mates playing Doom on PC, Mario on N64, Sonic on Mega Drive etc. I understood as a kid that my family couldn't afford any of that although I did ask a few times so they knew I wanted a gaming system.

Well one day probably around August/Sep of '94 I was with my grandfather at a garage sale and there was a Sega Mega Drive that the guy was selling for $50, not a small amount of money back then but far less than what a new system would cost so I asked my grandfather if we could get it, he said I'd have to speak to my parents so we went home and I called them asking if they could get it as a Christmas present which they said no. This is when I had a bit of a temper tantrum myself (not to the same extent as yours though) about how the other kids all had gaming systems etc yet I couldn't have an old cheap one and how it felt unfair etc.

So my mother decided to explain why, they had a PlayStation on layby for Christmas. I was abit confused, not having internet and having not heard of what a PlayStation was (being the first one which wasn't released at the time) I was concerned that they were getting some obscure system that wouldn't be very good (my parents aren't into tech, even back then I was far ahead in understanding TV's and tech). I asked what it was and my mother explained it was a new system by Sony which she had spoken to some friends and checked that it would be far ahead of the other systems.

So Christmas came along and I unwrapped the PlayStation, my first gaming/computer system, and boy did it blow me away. The pics of 3D games on the back looked amazing and I remember looking at one labelled "G-Police" and thinking how I wanted to grab that someday. They had also purchased a 2nd controller as it was for both myself and my sister (although it was clear who would use it most) and 2 games, V-Rally and Abes Odysee. I still have both games *looks over to PS1 collection* and a year later got G-Police "Platinum Games" version with money I had saved from chores, first game I bought for myself, which has lasted as one of my favourite games of PS1 era.

When the PS2 came out my parents got that for me with Gran Turismo 3 (box set) and a racing wheel, boy those were fun days, the PS3 I preordered and paid for myself, another first as it was the first gaming system I had paid for myself (at $1000 it wasn't cheap either). Now they all sit next to the PS4 and other systems I've purchased since, but I will always remember unwrapping my PS1 and setting it up (since even back then I was the only one that knew how to lol).

Nah I don't like xmas, over the years it has come to mostly be about tension and shouting and I can't stand it.

Man. Nothing like a little feel-good story like this to get my christmas spirits up. Eh? Eh? God damnit.

I've always been at odds with my parents and their gift giving. I still have a rather selfish overview of Christmas, but I guess I've always been hoping for that surprise and excitement I stopped getting after I was 5 or 6. My parents have never understood or wanted to support my nerd things, and as such, the presents they give are hardly better than something I could have asked for on a random shopping trip.

I remember getting a bag of dried apricots one birthday. I love dried apricots, but I could have gotten them any time of the year from them. It was my 16th birthday, and I was hoping for a little something more special, and I only got one thing I asked for: the players guide to Perfect Dark. Great, but I was good at saving, and with the flow of money coming in from my grandparents, that $13 wouldn't have been hard to buy it myself.

At least now that I'm an adult, I can try to give exciting gifts when I can. Last year, my sister asked for nothing other than a box of Pop Tarts. I went to Costco and got 8 of their giant boxes of Pop Tarts, which ended up being a years supply for her. This year has been a bit more difficult, because she's completely sick of Pop Tarts, and still doesn't have anything she wants.

Thanks for sharing that, I can see it came from the heart and you feel like shit about it. We've done our fair share of tantrum throwing since our youth, even though I was an overall quiet, easy going kinda guy I've said some unforgivable things and actions towards my mother. Remember, no one will forgive you like your parents do, probably not even your spouse.

Having said that, I remember having some kick-ass Christmas celebrations, like at an uncles house where he made awesome worn old pirate "treasure maps" to follow until we found our presents, and the time my mom managed to convince me that Santa visited us in a hotel room and left presents at the foot of our bed since due to overbooked flights we couldn't get home in time...

I can't remember ever doing anything like that, but I'm pretty sure that I did at one point.

Well, at least I can hang onto the happy memory when I got Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door at my Grandmother's house.

My father was direct with his answers. He either said Yes or No. Getting a direct No is just as hurtful. My brother and I wanted a Sega Mega Drive (called Genesis in America for some reason) for Xmas one year, he gave a direct Yes. We got the console and 3 games, and only three games (Altered Beast, Super Hang On and Columns). He told us that three is more than enough for anyone. We ended up buying games on our own (I got Streets of Rage 2 for $109AU), but he could never understand why we didn't like going outside and playing sports. I never had Xmas Day blowouts, it was always the month or so leading up to it.

I can't recall ever acting that way. I wasn't spoiled, but I did get a few things here and there, even more expensive ones, that I asked for. I was always typically a console generation behind, but only just barely, and I was perfectly happy with it.

Although it did benefit from my parents being more direct with me. They knew I understood the concept of money and bills, so when they told me "No, we cannot afford to get you that PS2." sure I'd get quite upset, but at least they didn't leave me in the dark to conjure up my own reality where they obviously WILL get it for me.

It would just get to the point where I'd earn the money myself anyway. I bought my own PS1 when the PS2 came out since the price considerably dropped, and the same with the PS2.

As an adult with a job and most of the money I'll need for any games and consoles I want, now I don't have time to play it all anyway...


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