I can’t really single out one memory of Christmas gaming time, because there are so many of them. But the most significant of them revolve around my brotha from another motha, Anthony.
I’ve been friends with this guy since we were both wearing diapers. Our parents were close friends due to the fact that they were from the same village back in Guyana and were living in the same city as one another when they immigrated northward, so it was only natural that the two of us became friends ourselves. Eventually, as most city folk did during that time period, our families both moved to the suburbs, with my family moving first and his family following about eight years later. Once we were in closer proximity to one another, our families started a Christmas tradition filled with merriment, mayhem and plenty of Smash.
Every year at Christmas time, my parents, my brother and I would stay by Anto’s family’s house. His dad, who is both my mentor and an excellent amateur chef, would cook up a massive storm of delicious food while his mom would put together appetizers and drinks for the night. Meanwhile, us kids would hang out either in a nook we carved out underneath the stairs of the (at that point) unfinished basement playing with all kinds of toys, or we’d be upstairs popping on the NES in the living room and sitting down to a gaming session of epic proportions. We’d play Duck Hunt, TMNT II: The Arcade Game, Blades of Steel, Donkey Kong, Pinball, Super Mario Bros. 1 and 3, Super C, you name it, we were playing it! Our parents would be watching behind us as we played and either shook their heads or stifled laughter at our trash talk while the two of us played cooperatively with or against one another.
As gaming changed thanks to new technologies and the introduction of 3-D, so to did our traditions. Anto got an Nintendo 64 and we upped the competitive ante with games like GoldenEye and Pokémon Stadium, while playing great single player games like Rogue Squadron. There were a few years where he and his much younger brother would stay over at my house for Christmas; in those cases, it would be all-night gaming sessions playing PS1 games like Mega Man X4, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped or even Final Fantasy VII. Many inside jokes and references from that game still abound. Regardless of where we were staying at, we all talked obsessively about TV shows like Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Digimon, all while collecting the action figures for those series.
I then got a GameCube with Super Smash Bros. Melee and it became our go-to game to play every opportunity we got, especially at Christmas. We would go all night playing tournaments, free-for-all’s and team battles. When Brawl was introduced, the holiday Smashing went from great to amazing, thanks to characters like Sonic, Meta Knight and Solid Snake being introduced to the game. Finally, combining those two games with Mario Party and even Wii Sports made for the ultimate Christmas showdown, especially when a big enough group got together! Those were the times where I wished the fun would never end.
We played board games, card games, video games, trivia games and even made up games on the fly. We shared inside jokes, funny stories and even endured awkward talks about relationships and the fairer sex. There are so many stories I could tell, from having a rubber band shooting war with Anto and I facing off against my sharpshooting little brother who could snipe a dude with a rubber band a room away using a paint stick, to the time where I needed to complete some freehand drawings of people for a high school art class during the Christmas break and everyone volunteered to be a model, to even one day organizing a scavenger hunt using the very Gundam action figures that we collected over the years (We stuffed them in the Christmas tree). I just don’t think the Well-Red Mage would let me have enough space to write them all!
Soon, it’ll be my little boy’s first Christmas and I can’t wait to start some new traditions with him and my wife. At the same time, I look forward to keeping up the old traditions of hanging out with my boy Anto and his family during Christmas time. This time though, Smash will be Ultimate, Parties will be Super, Coffee will be Overflowing and maybe we can dig out that old NES and finally get to the end of Super C…
Engineer by day, adult-responsibility juggler and caffeinated gamer dad by night, the Hyperactive Coffee Mage is a coffee-fueled writing machine and expert gaming historian. Check out his cool beans at gameswithcoffee.com.
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