Enjoy Christmas 2014 while reading about Christmas 1991!
Sadly, I do not have an Xbox One or Ps4, but the holidays are always my favorite time of the year for gaming. Not sure if it’s my fond memories of playing Goldeneye multiplayer with my brother over break or the time I received a Sega Saturn complete with Die Hard Arcade and Virtua Cop 2. Well, I decided to channel my holiday blues and write this article to share with my fellow Laser Timers, one of my fondest video game Christmas memories.
I was about nine years old, and even at that young age I knew that my Nintendo just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Luckily, Sega was about to release its new console soon, and it claimed to have 16-bit technology! That was eight more than my geriatric NES, so I knew if I could get one it may very well blow my impressionable mind. I had only one person to turn to for answers. My uncle was a huge gamer, and I attribute my love for gaming all to him. During one fateful trip to his house, he fired up his most recent gaming purchase — you guessed it — a recently released Sega Genesis. This black box was sleek and even had a headphone jack with an independent volume slider, so I could finally game after 8 PM without my parents knowing. This thought was quickly interrupted by some blue thing running across a “massive” 27 inch CRT screen — so fast that I couldn’t process what I was seeing, only able to utter the words “16 bits.” I knew at that moment that the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a Sega Genesis.
After a quick search of my favorite book at the time (the Toys R Us wish book), I located it. I quickly showed my mother, and she did her best to entertain the idea of getting another gaming system. But I knew going in it was a hard sell and realized if I was going to make this thing happen I would have to take it to the next level. In the months leading up to Christmas, I was engulfed in a full-on Genesis PR blitz that culminated in an arts-and-crafts project that I am sure swayed at least my father. The week before Christmas break, my teacher tasked all her students to make something out of popsicle sticks for our parents as an early Christmas gift. Seeing this as an opportunity for a final push, I glued a bunch of sticks together, painted it all black with a magic marker, and topped it off with the word “Sega,” written in a scented white magic marker. When I presented my parents with this black pile of popsicle sticks, they recognized my desperation and understood just how deep I had fallen down the Sega hole.
With a week left til Christmas and all my efforts to locate a Sega Genesis-sized box in my parents’ closet proving futile, I knew It was time to get my hands dirty. Anyone who grew up with a younger brother or sister knows how valuable a dual gift can be. If you can convince your parents that you are willing to share a gift, it not only saves them time and money, but allows you and your sibling to raise the stakes of what you ask for. My brother would have only been about five years old, but it was the perfect age to coerce him into thinking he really wanted a Sega Genesis and not some lame “pet monster.” I know it’s about as low as you can go to screw someone out of their Christmas gift for your own gain, but it was for “16 bit graphics!”
This guy knows what I’m talking about.
Once I was able to convince my parents that my brother also wanted a Genesis, my work was complete. For the remaining days leading up to Christmas, I would practice my surprise face in the mirror in between watching episodes of Batman the Animated Series and putting the finishing touches on my single player campaign in Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. I was so sure that I was getting a Genesis that on Christmas Eve I unplugged my Nintendo and made room for my impending new system. But when my parents gave me the opportunity to open a single gift on Christmas Eve, I quickly denied their request. Even as a child, I knew that opening presents on Christmas Eve would somehow diminish Christmas Day proper, so as a rule, I never open presents early — even to this day.
Christmas Day arrived, and my parents, no doubt inspired by A Christmas Story, had the audacity to let me open all my gifts without opening a Sega Genesis. As I surveyed the Christmas tree, secretly calculating the gift-to-recipient ratios, I realized there was no way I was getting my wish. I was forced to watch my brother open all his gifts, all of which were all too small to house my 16-bit savior.
Unlike Scotty here, the events of that day didn’t lead to a future failed porn career.
The final insult was dealt to me as I watched my parents exchange gifts (a Christmas themed speedo for Dad and Sees candy for Mom.) Then, out of nowhere, my dad mentioned that he forgot to bring out a box. I knew this was it: this moment would be the culmination of my short life. And then my dad walked in with a long, oddly shaped box. I scanned it like a T-800 and was sure there was no way this wrapped present could contain my coveted possession. At this point, I was a broken shell of my former self, but I somehow managed to tear the wrapping paper to reveal a plain white box with the word “Sega” on it. My first thought was that my dad had purchased this from out local swap meet and didn’t realize he was sold a bootleg 12-bit system. Already invested in my fast developing Christmas mystery, I continued to open the box… and couldn’t believe what I saw.
Unknown to me was that even back in the 90s, retailers would offer their own bundles for systems. My dad didn’t purchase this box from some seedy swap-meet vendor, but from authorized retailer Price Club (Costco, to most reading this article). My plotting and scheming had paid off, and my parents had come through by purchasing a Sega Genesis, complete with an extra controller and three games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, and (surprisingly, my favorite of the three) QuackShot Starring Donald Duck. My first Christmas miracle!
Luckily, my “goose” wasn’t cooked. Wrong animal, bad joke.
I’m sure some will read this and cry foul that a young Moan4stallone was able to cheat Christmas, con his parents, and ultimately rob his little brother of his own Christmas gift memories. You are right on all counts, and if Santa was aware of my Christmas shenanigans, he would have most certainly strapped me into an ironic holiday themed electric chair, and just before flipping the switch would offer the final words “16 bits!” But was getting a Sega Genesis worth spending a Christmas break with only a blocky polygonal interpretation of Bruce Willis? Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!
Article by contributor Moan4Stallone.
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