I spent a lot of time this week thinking about memorable Christmas gifts. One reason was an assignment from work to record what other’s most memorable gifts were. Another reason was that I wanted to make sure our family made some memorable choices this year.
Looking back, I really do not remember special gifts I got as a child, though I am sure there were many. I do remember experiences though. One year my older sister and I decided to have all our stuffed animals give each other gifts. To accomplish this, we wrapped up every toy in the house, using newspaper, tissue paper, even toilet paper, when we ran out of all else.
It was great fun! We had stacks of presents under the Christmas tree and each evening spent hours re-arranging and planning who would open what, and when. I actually do not remember the opening part, just the fun of choosing toys from the closet and wrapping them all up.
When I look at the current wish list for teenagers at our home, I wonder how memorable more video games for Christmas could be.
There was a time when I did not think buying video games was a good idea. As a parent, I thought they had too much violence, too much bad language, got in the way of more important things for kids to do with their time, like chores, homework, reading, and communicating with parents.
I still believe those things about video games, but I now also believe video games are another way people can connect with each other. The benefits might actually outweigh the detriments.
Nothing makes a mother smile more then to hear all four of her children laughing uproariously together in the living room, working as a team to kill zombies. The fact that they are working together, defending each other, defeating the enemies of the world is more memorable than then exact mission of the game. It is hilarious to listen to as well, and sometimes they talk about the funny parts for days after.
Then there are those sports games that even I can get into. So, maybe I am not such a good volleyball player on a screen, but it is not my fault the kids always give me the quirky controller and my character always gets hit in the head!
I also appreciate that fact that we can have bowling tournaments in the house and I do not have to worry about windows getting broken or remember how to keep score.
What often happens at our house is that a new game is played, and played, and played, until the entire course is run, and the game is beaten. Then it goes on a stack under the television to sit for weeks, until someone new comes over and the fun begins again. The best part is the sharing of tips and strategies to beat the games. It may not be the form of communication preferred by some, but it is memorable and fun.
Once the fun is done, it is time to take the game back and get another one. The opportunities for family and friend connections are limitless.
Since our living room openly connects to our kitchen, where I seem to spend a lot of time, I get to hear a lot of video game action.
I have pretty much gotten to the point where I can tune out the car crashes and sniper fire, but when the background music comes on between missions, or at the beginning or end of the game, I am all ears. Amazingly, most video games incorporate phenomenal sound tracks of classical or popular music. It is actually great listening.
One of the first games to make a big impression in our family was Zelda, back in the days of Sega and Ninetendo 64. When I hear that haunting melody, it takes me back to the days of my children’s childhood. It almost brings tears to a mother’s eyes.
The Zelda game even inspired further musical interest and a connection between grandmother and grandson in our family. One of my sons wanted an ocarina for Christmas, like the instrument played on Zelda. Grandma was so cool when she actually found one!
I believe the best Christmas gifts are ones that enable a connection between giver and the gifted. The important thing is not really the gift, but taking the time to connect with each other, around the gift.
Balancing the real meaning of Christmas with modern gift giving can be a stretch. It is all a balancing act.