Christmas Memory, Amanda Hurych: The Holiday Xbox

I’m loving reading through my coworkers’ holiday memories! It’s like we’re all at some warm, fuzzy, and figurative Christmas campfire and we’re sharing special moments from our pasts with each other. What’s not to like?

I didn’t own my own gaming console until pretty late in my childhood. My parents weren’t uber strict when I was growing up, but Santa did have a tendency to gift me books and sweaters more than anything else over the years. Whenever I wanted to play one of those new-fangled video games, I’d make do with a friend’s house or spend my lunch hour hanging with the video game club.

That is until one Christmas. I woke up, gathered around the tree with my immediate family, and unwrapped a brand new Xbox 360 just for me. It was the greatest Christmas I can remember.

This was one of the first times my parents gave me my own personalized gift. My sister and I, courtesy of being born just a year-and-a-half apart, frequently got the same gifts, just in different colors. If I got a blue sweater, she got a green one. If I got a book of zombie short stories, she got a book of vampire short stories. If I got a Batman-shaped night light, she got one shaped like The Flash. You get the picture.

I’m in no way judging my parents for this by the by. When I look to give presents myself these days, I buy multiple iterations of the same thing for groups of people as often as I can. It’s a tremendous time saver. Members of my D&D group have gotten different colored dice sets or candy-cane dice bags. My tias have received soft coats or boots in the color of their choosing. And my cousins have just gotten blankets, sometimes not even different colors.

But that year, my parents jointly decided to give us things that catered to our individual passions. My sister got three massive stretched canvases, a set of acrylic paints, and a small bundle of paintbrushes. And I got my Xbox 360, complete with controller and an Xbox Live Gold membership.

This was not only the first big-buy gift my parents had ever given me, it was also the first that made me feel like they knew who I was and who I was growing into as a person. Games are what I turn to for comfort and excitement. They have played a major role in how I connect with the important people in my life. And heck, my current job revolves entirely around games and the gaming industry.

I’ve had other Christmases before, enjoyable and heartwarming occasions, but this one stands out in my mind as the one that marked a turning point in how my parents perceived both my sister and me. In a rather nice bit of irony, receiving my first game console from my parents was a strange way of acknowledging that I was growing up and pursuing interests that would follow me all the way into adulthood. And I’ll never forget that.

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