I was five-years old, and it was 6:00 a.m. on Christmas day. I ran to my sister’s room and, after endless begging and cajoling, managed to drag her out of bed (we couldn’t open presents till everyone was awake). We held hands and walked down the hall toward the living room.
As soon as I turned the corner I saw my grandfather holding the big one: an unwrapped box with the words ‘SUPER NINTENDO’ jumping out at me. My five-year-old heart almost exploded as I ran toward my grandpa.
We’ve all seen that viral video where the kid goes crazy when he unwraps his Nintendo 64. I wasn't quite as loud as that little boy but it felt just as intense. I couldn’t believe it. It was Christmas 1993, and I had an SNES.
I never thought I would get one. I didn’t know it then but my family never had a lot of money. All I knew was that other kids had stuff that I usually didn’t. All my friends would talk about Starfox and Super Mario World, but I could only play the original Nintendo games (and I had few of those).
My grandpa had done the impossible: He made my wildest dream a reality. To this day I can remember him turning his head toward me as I ran from the hallway, and I saw the briefest of smiles sneak onto his face.
I wasn’t really close to my mom’s dad. In fact I could only remember seeing him a couple of times before that morning. My grandfather was always estranged from my mom’s side of the family.
But at that moment he was holding the only thing my younger self could ever want, and I wasn't thinking about family disputes.
I ran over, gave him a hug, and ripped the box from his hands. My parents came into the living room, and when they saw my face they gave me a beautiful smile that I'll never forget.
After we finished opening the rest of our presents my sister helped me hook up my SNES. That Christmas — filled with platforming and coin hunting — became one of the best days of my life and I owe it all to my grandpa buying me a Super Nintendo. From then on, my life was that machine. We were inseparable.
I kept playing video games as I grew up. My passion never wavered; It intensified. I would also learn of all the things my grandpa did to drive my family away. He was a man too stubborn to admit his mistakes. I never hated him but I just stopped thinking about him.
When I was 16 my grandpa passed away. He had never really reconciled with my family.
At the funeral I remember my aunts and uncles talking about all the good times they shared with my grandfather. I felt sad. But then I remembered that unforgettable Christmas morning.
I barely knew him, but for one moment he was my hero. I’m thankful I have that memory. He may not have been a great man but I'll never forget him.
Looking back, I’m not even sure he purchased it for me. I never asked who bought me the present. In fact, it seems much more likely that my parents got it. But I don’t care. My grandpa made my morning and no one can take that away from me. He will always be the man who gave me my Super Nintendo.