Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Since I have done the #RPGaDay previously through Twitter, I've been working on expanding my tweets into full blown blog posts, AND get them done early to deal with any holiday craziness that may come around. Hitting the post for the 15th, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia and regret.   

With the holidays rolling around, I have to admit that I am a slave to tradition.  Even as a kid, I could care less about Christmas Day.  After the presents were opened by 9am, my family had breakfast and sort of did nothing. 

Christmas Eve, however was the be-all end-all of the holidays.    We would all pile into the car for the 55-minute drive at 55mph to my grandparent's house in Berkeley Heights.   Outside of the tree and dining room table, there weren't garish holiday decorations anywhere, just those few things that are ingrained in my brain:  The Swedish decorations (dala horses, julboks), the punch bowl, Canadian mints and Swedish fish.  Christmas Eve meant the pool table was cleaned off and the train set was up and running in the basement.  And after an afternoon of shooting pool, running the layout, and interacting with my relatives, it was time for dinner.  Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, limpa, rice pudding, and more jell-o than should be permitted by law.  

When we finish our rounds dessert and glogg, we would move over to the living room to exchange gifts.  The gift exchanges were never grandiose, my grandparents would usually give everyone checks, and outside of a hamster (and cage) for me and a bootleg Cabbage Patch Kid for my sister from my Aunt and Uncle, the other gifts were small, or clothes, or fill-the-house-with-laughter silly.  Then my sister and I would don our feetie pajamas and hopefully fell asleep on the drive home. 
As  I outgrew feetie pajamas, one glass of glogg to a 10 year old was enough to sleep through the drive, the night, and half of my winter vacation.  (I've since built up a nice tolerance).

Three decades later, I still try to instill as much family magic into Christmas Eve, but with two small kids, and non-Swedish family members filling the table over the past ten years, I try to appreciate the evolution of the event.

Similarly, every high school/teen movie and most high school graduating classes  have at least one obviously short-sighted character who just knows that high school will be the best years of everyone's lives and NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE.   I was adamantly NOT that person, but years later some harmless regret may surface that I wish I was a little bit sentimental and tried a bit harder.

GURPS was our back-up plan after AD&D.  Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, even my own Red Dawn game used it.    Each year in high school I would run at least two different "events."  One was simply titled Apocalypse '90/'91/'92.  This used my GURPS-Napalm Death characters that evolved from the Red Dawn game and (surprise!) covered some horrible apocalyptic theme.   The second game was Slaughterama '90/'91/'92 which was a weak plot covering gladiator combat in different genres. 

How does this and my fondest Christmas memories go together?  For many gamers, it's hard enough to find time to game throughout the year, so the annual Christmas game, be it rpgs, minis, or what have you, is a time to pull out all the stops and be awesome.

For my high school group, those games were the closest thing to an annual Christmas game as we got.  Truth be told, we were probably playing our AD&D campaign over the break.  In hindsight, I should have kept my GURPS games going each year, running a one-shot game based on the hot-apocalypse topic at the time, and then running some sort of gladiator game as well.  Eventually GURPS-Imperial Rome came out, so I could conceivably run a game with actual gladiators of yore!

Tim, of Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog goes through the same feasts and famines of gaming as everyone else, but he does put time aside for his birthday weekend.  Usually it's just a bunch of buddies using tournament rules and playing in an all-day campaign, but it gives him something to focus on (and a direction for his prodigious painting) when gaming opportunies have dried up.

I understand that some traditions wax and wane, others disappear, and others need to adapt with the times.  I really thought my Labor Day Picnic Risus IOU game would go on forever, but it looks as if we've missed two years now.   Hell, I'm trying to get the Cthulhu group together for the holidays (false, other people are inquiring, I'm trying to scramble with my family's social calendar) and if that goes off I need to play catch-up with Masks and something fun and not-necessarily holiday oriented.

Maybe SATLOF with the Burning Trogs? 
IOU at another function?
Bunnies and Burrows at Easter?
Gladiator combat using TWERPS?

Suggestions are appreciated.

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