My parents had a very unusual sense of humour when it came to giving me Christmas presents. Rather than wrap up my presents in the usual wrapping paper, they would annually try and find the weirdest way to fool me into thinking they hadn't got me what I had wanted. There was the time when I was given a massive box of shelled peanuts, only for me to find out that a selection of the 1989 Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles figures were buried underneath, in some sort of shallow grave. There was the occasion where they hid a SNES copy of Mortal Kombat 3 in a chocolate selection box. The time they hid a copy of Ocarina of Time in the box containing another present, a new clock radio. Then, there was the Nintendo 64 incident.
You see, in '97 I really wanted a Nintendo 64. I never really needed to tell me parents what I wanted, they were exceptionally good at figuring out what I liked. I woke up on Christmas Day, went upstairs to the kitchen to get some breakfast, and saw a small wrapped present on the box with my name on it. I opened it, and was overjoyed to have a copy of GoldenEye 007 in my hands. But this joy was quickly muted when I asked my parents if they had got an N64 to play GoldenEye on, with them telling me they thought it worked on my SNES.
Dejected, I slouch downstairs to read through the manual for a game I could not play. A full hour passes, before my parents ask me to come upstairs again. Like the teenager I was, I slowly lurch up the stairs again, spotting a bigger present on the table.
It was a Nintendo 64. Fooled again.
Last year, I went into hospital at the very end of November, and was facing up to the slight chance that I wouldn't be home in time for Christmas. If it wasn't for my fiancé, Anna, visiting me every day, I would have gone absolutely crazy. My 3DS and a copy of A Link Between Worlds helped to occupy my mind after visiting hours were over. Thankfully, I recovered enough to come home before Christmas - Anna had traded in quite a few of her own games to get me Super Mario 3D World to cheer me up, and spending my recovery playing that game with the woman I love made the fortnight I spent in hospital a distant memory.
Gaming can be a magical pastime. It can bring family and friends together. It can take our minds off the bad times and make the good times even better. But it's worth remembering that we should all be thankful for our health and the ones we love, because those are the most important things in life; it's easy to forget that.