Friday, September 15, 2006

A Letter

Dear Nintendo

A few years ago, during a pre-Christmas trip to all my siblings and then my father's home, I had a chance to leave your Gamecube under the tree. I had left Boston thinking that is what I wanted to do, but by first visiting all my nieces and nephews in Paris, Tongeren, and Amsterdam, I was able to see what they played with, and guage that indeed, while the older boys had PS2 and played Xbox with friends, and the girls played the simple games on my dad's pre-PowerPC Macintosh, by their direct long answer to 'So what about the Gamecube?', they knew you. Oh yes, the boys had GBAs and had played your franchises, and though their loyalty to those I saw that, as rowdy and soccer-playing and action-toy-shredding boys the oldest ones were, they knew you, and loved your cheerful outlook and innocence.

I knew they'd all be at my Dad's for Christmas (all ten loinfruit, and their parents, in that one house), so on the 20th or 21st of December I trekked to the local toy shop in that small village in the Netherlands my Dad lives in, and came home with your product and Mario Kart Double Something and extra controllers. I proceeded to unpack your product next to the second TV In The Corner Far Away From The Main Living Room, and showed my Dad exactly how to hook up the unit, after which I hid it in the cupboard above the TV. Then I wrapped the empty packaging and the accessories and left that under the tree. I think the toy shop was out of memory cards, so I had my sister buy one and bring it last minute.

For my siblings it would have been a serious expense, but really, for DINKy me it was, although not cheap, something I could easily do. I told my father to tell the 10 that no, it wasn't from Santa. It wasn't from Sinterklaas. It was from me. I wouldn't be there for their birthdays and Christmasses -- because I live sofar, and because I wouldn't be able to handle it, as I am not good around a gaggle of young children, I have a hard enough time relating to them when I just visit them in small groups of three or four at their families -- but this I could leave.

It's been however many years now, and my father still thanks me when my regular call happens to fall shortly after a visit from a sibling. Sure, every non-Nintendo fanboy out there thinks you are a Kid's Toys Company, that there is nothing edgy and hot about you. 3 years or however long it has been, and my father still thanks me. Whenever one of my siblings visits, the kids all go to the corner far away, and play party games for hours on end. Suddenly my Dad can talk to his children during a visit, and everyone gets to relax. At mealtime or for some outing they peel the children out of the corner and they all get ot interact, and when it gets much they go to the corner again. The kids love going to Grandpa and will sit in the car for hours for it. The older boys -- my siblings who started breeding first got more boys than the one who started later -- started teaching the girls how to play together and are all protective and sharing.

Do I like it when I find out they play PS2 for hours at home? Not really. Do I mind when I hear visits to Grandpa are dearly loved and go smoother because they get to binge on a weekend? Totally not. Grandpas are for Fun. Your simple fun, kid friendly, party box changed a family dynamic to make it even better. Grandpa's is going to be remembered as a place where they went to party and play with each-other and share and fight and rivalrize and grow up together, even if it was only once or twice a year -- a relationship I did not have with my cousins. Even if I only count the oldest 6 or so as players, over three years, it all adds up to one of the most long-term, cost-effective, and fun things I have ever done for someone else.

But just as I was getting afraid they were getting bored with this box, there you go and save Christmas again. Please make sure your supply chain works and you make your European launch date with ample inventory. For you have compelled me to make my pre-Christmas visit again, even if I already spent five weeks in the Netherlands this February, and thus saw 6 of the 10 this year (my brother and his family are in Milan right now, and I simply didn't make it that far south). This experience has to be under Opa Rocus' Christmas tree this year, and I must install it myself to make sure it will work right the moment they unpack the oblong boxes of spare controllers and realize that if this is a Wii controller in their hand that they just unpacked then that must mean.... and run to the TV In The Corner screaming the name of your product.

Thanks again,
Love, FJ!!

PS: December 8th? You're missing Sinterklaas seazon in NL! A little shabby there.

(Geez, I'd better friendslock this in a while. I am sure the oldest ones read English by now, and I keep expecting one of them to find my journal some day.

And tell my siblings not to buy a Wii for them this Christmas.)