The changing world of Christmas

I haven’t done a personal style blog so I thought I would waffle about something this morning for a change, other than my exploits as a Torbjorn Main, my adventures in HermitCraft , Elder Scrolls Online or the current D&D campaign – Brigadoon. I had a long hard think about what to waffle on about – well about the two minutes drive to the coffee shop – and I got thinking about Christmas and how it has changed for me over the years and how I tend to lack at sort of Christmas Spirit – Scrooge and Bah Humbug!

I think I am getting old. Christmas is a young person’s time of the year. Growing up we were never rich, but my mum always ensured that we had presents to open on the special day. I think I always really looked forward to the day because it was really the only time of the year that we got presents. We had sweets and treats and the money from my advertiser newspaper round allowed me to by the lastest AD&D module – Assault on the Eerie of the Slave Lords! – but we never got like ‘big’ presents until Christmas. If I wanted a radio then it would be Christmas when it arrived. Christmas was therefore very specially to us all and I remember spending ages opening presents and making a pile by ‘my’ chair and looking through them morning after morning until we had to take them out of the front room and move them to your bedrooms. I was still eating meat as I grew up and the Christmas lunch was a truly spectacular event. I remember there was even a starter! The table was huge and there was crackers and hats and the usual corny jokes. Although mum always made the meal we, as in the children, always washed up. It took a long time and several bowls of hot water but it was the perfect time to let the food settle before sitting down for the Queen’s Speech and the Christmas film. I think it was always the Wizard of Oz but every year it seemed special. With VHS only just appearing, you could only watch films like this on Christmas Day and there was always the bumper edition of the Radio Times to wade through and pick out your favourite viewing.

I think the count up to Christmas is almost the most exciting part as I grew older. I used always go shopping for presents on Christmas Eve and enjoy saying Merry Christmas to the shop assistants as I left the shops carrying loads of plastic bags filled with goodies. Wrapping was always done in the afternoon usually watching the Christmas Carol on the tele. Even after I had left home, I arrived at the family home shortly after 8:00 am to open presents and start the Christmas festivities which included a croissant breakfast and the customary lego building and frantic search for the ‘right’ batteries. Alcohol would start to flow and we started to engage with the Christmas games – many of which ended up with my laughing so much that I literally couldn’t breath! The Christmas dinner increased in size and I honestly remember there not being enough room on the actual table to fit everything on. How I ate so much I have no idea!

I used to like giving and receiving presents and searched for ages to buy things which I thought would be appreciated. As I have got older my Christmas list has become harder and harder to write. Now I revert to the safe ground of – just give me money. I don’t engage with Secret Santa mainly because I know I am really hard to buy for and I never seem to buy the ‘right’ gift for other people. I am also very bad at receiving presents. I’m not sure why but I sometimes feel uncomfortable about getting gifts and often wonder why people have bought me things. I am dreadful at trying to ‘fake’ surprise and actually get quite anxious now when opening presents – if people don’t follow the suggested gift of cash. I don’t mind not getting gifts, to be honest I really like people opening their own presents from other people and seeing their faces.

I don’t put decorations up any more. I used to make a special effort with these, putting them up early December and enjoying them through advent and into the new year. This was reduced to putting them up on Christmas Eve and taking them down the day after Boxing Day and eventually I actually thought why am I putting them up. Living by myself no-one ever sees the decoration bare abode and I cleverly use Photoshop so I can join in the obligatory decoration image on Facebook. I do like walking home from work and looking at everyone elses, especially if they have their curtains open and the tree is fully light and enjoying pride of place in the window. Also – returning to my family home, it is always nice to see the same Christmas tree up which I remember seeing growing up.

Reading this back it would seem that I am a bit of a bah humbug sort of person. I’m never unhappy at Christmas, I just feel like I have grown out of it and I am that sort of person who doesn’t actually ‘fit in’ to Christmas. I am looking forward to spending the day with family and my sister always does me a fantastic Vegan/Veggie meal. I guess that as we move throughout the year Christmas has just become one of those other times when we do things and then move on. I do miss the excitement and the anticipation as the eventful day arrives but really, as I said right at the beginning of this waffle – I guess I am just getting old and don’t really gel with Christmas any more.

Before you all think I am some sad person who is probably completely painted green and has a middle name which begins with ‘G’ I would like to say – I really do hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you enjoy spending time with family and friends. So, have fun and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled!

2 comments for “Let Me In! – Simon’s Cat – YouTube

  1. Profile photo of Longshanks
    February 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Would be cool to play an one off, one of the dungeon crawls you made! Maybe the 8 level one!!!

  2. Profile photo of David Thompson
    March 21, 2017 at 12:05 am

    I miss those early days so much. The current state of rpg’s , the rpg xubculture if you like, doesn’t feel like it did back then. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    I was introduced to Advanced D&D 1st Edition, by my sisters boyfriend (the BEST boyfriend of the many she had IMHO..), who showed me S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks module after discovering I enjoyed computer based adventure games, I was hooked immediately and it wasn’t too long before I was hanging around the local game shop, Games Gallery, from which I was invited to join in a game run by the assistant manager, who was to become my long and good friend Steve, who was coincidentally, the reason I got to work at the local branch of Games Workshop for a time. Working there, in those days, before it became a Warhammer only shop, was amazing. It was the proverbial kid in the sweet shop!. Staff discount made it even sweeter – 50% off GW’s own products, and 25% off everything else. We also ran a great rpg club, with about 60-80 members at its peak.
    I was always the GM for my main group as no one else had the time it took to prepare a game properly, though after a few changes to the group, and people from the club popping up, I eventually got to play. Games by a company called Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU) were very popular in all of my groups. FGU sold games such as Bushido, Aftermath,Space Opera, Chivalry & Sorcery, Freedom Fighters, and Bunnies & Burrows, but there were many many more games, by many different companies, covering all sorts of genres – and I still have them all. Many were, as was the style back then, table and chart and rule HEAVY. We loved that. Comparing themto the current crop of “rules lite” systems, I would certainly go back to the old games instead. We played these games sometimes 5 days a week, as for a time we were all unemployed. It was all we did.
    I often spent days creating scenarios, making maps, creating player characters as well as npc’s. I found it quite therapeutic, as is miniature painting – thousands of the little buggers packed away testify to the time I spent doing it. My “toy soldiers” as my brother in law calls them…
    I used to get quite attached to my favourite characters, and whilst one or two died over the decades, most did not.
    For almost all of my characters I would go overboard by most people’s standards. I like to have an image for my characters, whether a photo or artwork. Sometimes I will see an image and that is the base for the whole character, built around the image.
    I always believed as a player, that giving the GM a detailed background, list of goals, motivations, friends, contacts and enemies, will help the GM bring my character into the game more, by using some of what I have given him in the game. As a GM I like to see what players come up with for their characters, and will often use it in the game. It involves the player more, makes the game more personal if part of the game is suddenly about them, and it can help the players become more invested in their characters.
    For myself, I would often map out the characters home, create a family tree, siblings, etc.
    For our Star Trek RPG (by FASA Corp), I created the whole crew of a 500+ personnel star ship… All as detailed player characters. Unnecessary and a bit OTT I know, but it helped bring every department on the ship alive, every member of the landing party was a person not simply a red shirt.

    I am often bemused whilst watching streams when I see the gm of a streamed game pull some “new” idea out of his box of tricks, and the players are like “wow!”, “that’s original”, “I would never have thought of doing it that way!”, knowing we did it 30-40 years ago.

    The games my most recent group and I played/ran, were very detailed games with a lot of depth. Quite dark games too, mature themed, and often very emotional and intense. Having played with the same people for nigh on 20 years, you create a bond, a closeness and familiarity that allows you to communicate in a way you couldn’t, with people you don’t know very well.
    I have been brought to tears several times in recent years during the last (decade long) game we played ,as some scenes were simply too emotional or powerful, overwhelming (GM was a bastard – but an EXCELLENT GM).

    Sadly the group folded, but the GM offered to keep the game going for just me, which he did for a few years, which to be honest I really needed, as it helped me through a bad depression at that time).
    Over the years I have experienced a lot of things because of rpg’s, and made some great friends, too. I have a lot to be grateful for, regarding rpg’s. I was discussing with my brother in law, my collection of rpg’s and miniatures. When he realised how much they are worth, (some regularly sell for £100’s!) he always tells me to sell sell sell. He doesn’t grasp what they mean to me .
    Yet I won’t. Part of me hopes and prays that I will get a local group together (even some of the old group!) and start using them again. But aside from that, as my memory fails, little by little each year, these boxes and books and miniatures on the shelves are my constant reminders of happy and sad and exciting moments, and great fun, and more importantly, great friends.

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