Christmas is a time that's all about upholding tradition. From the giving of gifts and the cooking of tremendous turkey dinners, through to the heated family arguments over games of Trivial Pursuit, we all feel somehow obliged to adhere to these Yuletide mainstays every December. Break with any one of those traditions, no matter how inconsequential it might seem, and the whole day feels a little less like Christmas as a result. One of my own personal Christmas traditions that I've upheld every winter since joining Giant Bomb back in 2008 is to celebrate the festive season by writing a multi-part Christmas Mega-Blog. Typically posted on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, planning and writing a triumvirate of tantalising blogs has become as much a part of my countdown to Christmas as the opening of an advent calendar. In previous years I've written about everything from Final Fantasy and Majora's Mask, to loading up old game saves and even a Christmas-themed Giant Bomb poem.
So what's on the agenda for this year's Christmas Mega-Blog, I hear you cry? Well dear reader, allow me to sate your blog-thirst with my traditional food-based analogy:
- Part One serves as the prawn cocktail starter to this festive feast. Traditionally, this has always been a brief summary of how I intend to spend the Christmas period, what gifts I'll be giving, and what I'm hoping to receive. That's a tradition I plan to uphold below.
- Part Two, coming tomorrow on Christmas Day, acts as the main course - a ginormous turkey dinner of a blog, complete with all the trimmings. I'm planning to borrow the format of last year's Final Fantasy Retrospective, and apply it to another beloved franchise in the form of Tomb Raider. Having played through three of Lara's adventures this year, and with a new game just around the corner, now feels like an ideal time to revisit my opinions of every single core title in a franchise I pretty much grew up with.
- Part Three, served up on Boxing Day, is the equivalent of a healthy helping of Christmas pudding and custard for dessert. This year I'll be looking at my long-standing obsession with the Pro Evolution Soccer series' Master League mode, and trying to deduce what's made me sink over seventy hours of this year into a game based on a sport I don't follow or even particularly like.
That all cleared up? Good. Now let's get stuck into the first part of Dan's 2012 Christmas Mega-Blog proper!
Part One - A Very DanKempster Christmas
This year's Christmas is going to be a low-key affair, even by my family's already-reserved standards. It's been a pretty crappy year for all of us, punctuated by bad news and the losses of good friends, beloved family and incredible colleagues. However much we don't want it to, Christmas is going to serve as an unavoidable reminder that those people are no longer with us. On the other hand, though, it's also going to serve as an opportunity to bring a battered and fragmented family back together, to unite us and remind us of what we do still have. On Christmas Day evening we'll be going to my mum's parents' place, and my dad's father will be joining us for the day on Boxing Day. I love spending time with my grandparents, especially at this time of year, and I can't wait to watch terrible Christmas TV and play old board games with them.
People who've read previous Mega-Blogs will be aware that the commercial side of Christmas has never much interested me, and this year is certainly no exception in terms of receiving gifts. I haven't asked anyone for anything this year, largely because I'm not really wanting for anything at the moment. My parents are just giving me a little money this year, but I don't have any idea what I'll be spending it on. Not having asked for anything means I'm a little more excited about the prospect of receiving gifts this year, though - because I haven't given my sisters or friends any real hints, I genuinely have no idea what I might be receiving from them this year. It's a slightly more tantalising prospect than last year, where I knew or could guess what everyone was going to buy me based on suggestions I'd given them.
Instead of thinking about what I'd like to receive, I've put a lot of thought this year into gift-giving. One of the best (and simultaneously one of the worst) things about this year is that thanks to finally finding an awesome job back in April, I was able to save up enough money to get my family and friends some half-decent gifts this year. Last year I ended up having to sell a lot of my own possessions in order to pay for presents, and while such an act might epitomise the spirit of Christmas, it was tough having to part with some of my favourite games, CDs and DVDs to that end. This year has been much less self-sacrificing. Below is a list of some of the gifts I've given or will be giving this year:
- My father is notoriously difficult to buy for, but I'm pretty pleased with what I got him in the end. His wallet fell apart earlier this year, so I've got him a Primehide leather one to replace it. We have two dogs, an Alaskan malamute and a collie/malamute cross, both of which he adores and walks most nights, so I've also bought him a hoodie which reads 'Keep Calm And Walk The Alaskan Malamute'.
- My mother had half of her Christmas present last month, when her old phone went through the washing machine and my sister and I collaborated to replace it. The other half, which she'll be opening on Christmas Day, is a cross-stitch tapestry of Elvis Presley playing his guitar.
- My older-younger sister (so dubbed because she's older than my other sister, but younger than me) is obsessed with Hello Kitty, so I got her a branded pink bathrobe. To complement this I've also bought her a box of goodies from natural cosmetics company Lush.
- My younger-younger sister is a big fan of Green Day, so my Christmas presents to her are centred on her favourite band. I ordered her some official merchandise in the form of an American Idiot hoodie, and I've also bought her copies of both of their live albums to round out her CD collection.
- I bought CDs, DVDs, books and games for most of my friends. My best friend is a huge Gerald Durrell fan, so I've bought her a handful of his books that she hasn't read yet. Another of my friends loves the GTA series, but has steered clear of Red Dead Redemption for reasons unknown, so I've used this festive season as an opportunity to force it on him. A third friend, who adored Skyrim when he played it earlier this year, has been treated to a copy of Morrowind. No doubt you get the idea, so I'll stop now.
So there we have it - that'll be my Christmas, and I'll be celebrating it in roughly twenty-four hours' time. Speaking of which, be sure to return then (if you can) for the second part of this year's Christmas Mega-Blog. I'd love to know how you guys are planning to pass your Christmas Day too, so please feel free to share your plans in the comments below. Until then, here's a picture of my two dogs, one of whom is wearing a very fetching purple tie. Merry Christmas, Giant Bomb! I'll see you around.
Currently playing - Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die! (PC)