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Presents: The Joy of Giving


My first Bloggers Wanted and it’s actually one of the best themes I could start with. You know why? Because I love presents! Not necessarily the fact that I’m getting something or giving something in itself, but rather all the anticipation, experiencing and pay off that comes from that.

So I decided to tell you all a bit about my life and how I became the surprises-loving person that I am today.

Looking back, if there is something I won’t ever deny is how amazing my childhood was; which I don’t mean in a bragging sense, but rather in a very grateful way, which I really am. Part of that had to do with the fact that we had a pretty comfortable life as my father (and my mother when she was still working, before my brother was born) earned a really good salary, and was able to afford enough toys and stuff to fill an entire room. While most of my our friends usually got one or two presents for Christmas, me and my brother sometimes got about 5 or 6 each (between my parents and my uncles and aunts).

But more than the fact that we managed to get all of these things, there are three very important aspects to the circumstances around receiving them. For everything we got, our parents made a serious effort to teach us how important it is to give as well. Not just by telling us that, but by taking us to deliver some of the toys we didn’t care for during Christmas season, or by inviting children from some local orphanages to come to our house and play some games. Those smiling faces and moments of sharing were one of those aspects.

One thing I later realized was that my father never bought me a “bad” game, or at least one I didn’t enjoy. Sure, after I reached a certain age I began asking him for specific titles, but before that it was all box art based buying, and for some reason my mom and dad were much better than us at spotting quality. The first console they bought me was the SEGA Mega Drive (Genesis over in the States), with Sonic 3 and TMNT: Hyperstone Heist. Then, the N64 with Pokemon Stadium and Mario Party 3 and the Gamecube with Luigi’s Mansion and Super Smash Brothers – also having the awareness to buy another controller so that the both of us could play it! One morning I woke up with the GBA, a GBA t-shirt and Castlevania: Circle of the Moon staring me right in the face from the chair in front of my bed.

These are all video game related situations, but this happened with toys as well. There was this one time, when I lost a tooth and put it under my pillow waiting for the Tooth Fairy to retrieve it. By the way, in our household instead of money we used to get toys, because we used to get much more out of them than some coins or whatever. So, on this occasion, I woke up to find a considerably sized Biker Mice from Mars action figure next to my bed. And it was from my favorite one of the three, Modo. Did I ever tell my parents who my favorite characters were or that I wanted this or that? Many of these things I did not, which showed me another important thing: my parents took the time to know me, and their presents reflected that.

The third aspect is the element of surprise. With both the GBA and the Biker Mice I was totally in shock, not expecting that at all. On one Christmas evening my parents managed to put a freaking bike in our kitchen without any of us kid noticing, in a rather short amount of time. The joy that’s to be found in being pleasantly surprised is one that’s been accompanying me since my youth.

And so, now we get to my adolescence. In a stark contrast with my childhood, these were some tough times. My parents got divorced, so the situation at home wasn’t the best, and at school I was more of an outcast, a loner and a nerd who enjoyed his video games and his cartoons and who had just his 4 or 5 really close friends. In hindsight, those are things that made me really value and respect my friendships and my interests, but at the time it was though. From all of that I grew up to be much more cynical than before, much more independent, but also made me put the joy of my youth on the highest pedestal.

From all of that stemmed my will to surprise and to reproduce smiling faces, like my parents did before. Since I’ve been able to use my own earnings and savings more freely, I put a great deal of effort in the presents I give. I began loving birthdays and Christmas more due to the part where I can impart those feelings on others.

 I’m the guy who, one month ahead of time, gets everyone in the gang together to decide what to give the birthday boy or girl, and then we brainstorm what could be really great form him or her. Because that’s what it’s about – a present that will have a deep meaning for that specific person. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it doesn’t even have to be bought. I’ve written poems, edited videos, among other things.

It can be that book my mom was looking for that I found in at an old bookstore, that Chrono Trigger OST I bought for my brother 4 months ahead of time, that out of print CD I’m getting my father this year… Or that time my girlfriend found that Amadeus DVD on the glove compartment of her car. Or even the present I gave my best friend on his wedding which was showing a video I edited (thanks to help of a considerable amount of people).

Sure, I tend to set the bar rather high, so they always seem to find it difficult to know what to get me nowadays. That has to do with me preferring not to tell them exactly what I want, and expecting some effort to go into what they give me. In a way, I'd like to get those feelings of yesteryear as well. And I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like them to try and do the same for me, because I definitely would, but that’s not my main motivation. My intention is not to be praised or to brag about it, it’s to see their eyes shining and that smile forming from the joy of realizing that there’s someone who knows and understands them, who goes the extra mile to surprise and make them smile.

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About JPF720one of us since 3:45 PM on 04.08.2015

Hello there, I hail from the mythical land of Portugal and video games are a passion of mine. It all began when I played the original Super Mario Bros. at a friend's house, got rekindled when my uncle got me a Saturn with a Golf game (which I never played) and has now blossomed into a very critical, but also very loving, view of this medium.

As a Translator with a background in Psychology, I love to share and reflect on my personal experience with games, be it the narrative, the mechanics or how they are perfectly in sync (love those).

<Thanks to Dango for this compilation of may favorite games>

<Awesome Drawing by InquisitveRavenclaw>