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Barmy Blue's Bland Blog

My First Non-depressed Christmas

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So far at least.
Hello. Long time no see
Why so long?
Several reasons. Laziness mostly.
I decided to drop in so that you know I'm alive.
One quick note. In the New Year of 2019 (the first week or two) my computer broke. Still don't know why. Probably because I'd get up, turn it on and it would stay on until I went to bed whether or not I was actually doing anything on it. It's a home computer. Not an office computer. It wasn't designed for that level of activity. So maybe that's why. After a few weeks he was fixed. Needed a new memory so everything on there before was unrecoverable. But I realised that, since I don't do anything important on here, there was nothing vital lost (as far as I'm aware). When it came back it came without Microsoft Word. We need to find it to reinstall it. It's probably around the house somewhere. So I'm doing this on notepad (since typing long entries will get me timed out.)
So. Your Christmas?
Well. Pretty much since I became an adult, maybe even steadily since my teens, I get sad or grumpy or angry on Christmas day and, even if it's okay for everyone else, there's something that upsets me.
Not so this year. For once I have no negatives to report. Well. I do actually but they weren't a big deal.
First negative. Mum has a cough. It started coming up about 2-3 days before Christmas. But she was okay until after dinner (technically it's lunch time but still).
Second negative. Especially given that Mum's not well right now, I felt I should assist more. But when It came to it I completely forgot because of my epic plan (which I think is part of the reason it was a good day) But still. Mum doesn't mind and at least we weren't in her way. Sometimes I wonder if my desire to be helpful is more of a hinderance.
So what was this epic plan?
To bond/be entertained through competition.
There are 2 big things that bring me down at Christmas.
1) I don't usually get much sleep, if any (I had a few hours this time)
2) Interaction with my dad. Christmas Day is the only day that we spend together. We don't always get on. There's nothing bad between us, it's just that it's difficult to comunicate. Since I don't spend much time around any other humans I struggle with social interraction as it is and my dad is very hard for me to read. He's quiet, can be grumpy, and, due to his tone (which I'm not used to) I can't be sure of his mood. Is he happy or unhappy? Was this a statement or is he joking? I honestly can't tell sometimes. Basically he's so hard for me to read because he's exactly like me I guess .
Anyway. I've been watching a lot of gaming videos over the year because the interractions are fun and you can get a sense of games that you're unlikely to ever play/have never heard of.
A few months ago (don't worry, we're getting to the point soon) I had an idea and thought "that would be nice" and then thought "hang on. Save that for Christmas" and an idea formed.
A few years ago now my dad got me an xbox for Assassins Creed (because the Assassins Creed series is the only thing he knew I was into and I couldn't think of any other interests to put him onto) I didn't expect it, felt a little guilty that he'd got it because consoles are expensive and I didn't know when I'd actually use it (chronologically I'm still on the second one of the series, I came to it quite late) and it took me a while to give it a go. Didn't much like how complicated it seemed and didn't much like playing the game (Syndicate. I'm not a huge fan of people recreating the industrial revolution (Chronologically it's closer than I'd like, i have the same problem with the World Wars. It's more recent in history so I can't detatch and just enjoy the story being told to me) with the suffering of the poor and attempting english accents which go one of two ways and neither is good, all combined with very lovely graphics but complicated controls (because I'm not used to them) and a story that I'm out of touch with (because I was only up to the second installment)) Basically I didn't play it for a year. But then he got me Origins and I love playing that (I also found it very fun/useful for getting ready to go to the Tutankhamun exhibit we went to in November (more on that another time if you wish)).
Basically I now use the console and I've gotten used to it and lately I'be been seeing people playing interesting games and I've been looking into it.
Last year I picked up an xbox giftcard to see what it's like (I don't like having a financial account tied to an online service, so even though it produces more rubbish I prefer gift cards to top up online accounts. That way if the account is ever hacked they'll only take physical money I've already spent (by buying the card) and not have any kind of online paper trail to me and my financials).
Took almost a year for me to decide to use the card and even longer to actually get something. (There is a point to all this if you stick with it)
I browsed the online stoor once in a while. Settled on a few things I'd like to play. But you have to make the right choice. This isn't infinate money and you have no business getting another card for no reason. At best I could only get 2 games with what I had or 1 more expensive one.
Then the idea began to form. Every year my dad asks whan I want for Christmas and/or my birthday and I can never think of anything to ask for. There are things I want but you have to weigh it up. Will you use it, will it take up space, is it a hobby/interest you're proud of/ don't mind other people knowing about (for exapmle I was practicing guitar. But I tried to do it secretly because I was self teaching and I didn't want anyone else to be aware when I got bored and gave up, which I did (I already had the guitar from earlier. I'd got it when I had a job and was depressed. This secret learning was a few years ago when I decided to pick it up again) I bring up this example because if I'd mentioned it as an interest then it could have been invested in by one or both parents. Maybe some sort of tools for learning/maintainance and I'd feel guilty that they'd I'd wasted their money and effort when I gave it up).
So I'm always careful with what interests I let my parents know about, also so they won't ask me how something is going when I've stopped doing it. (side note, I'm now working on Japanese. I had a tiny bit from watching anime but I've always wanted to learn a new language. So far I have both alphabets memorised but I've stalled at gramar. I need to get back into it)
But, at a gift giving time, I think a gift card is no only perfectly acceptable but is, in fact, designed for this very thing.
So I decided (purely as an option and under no obligation to actually get) that, if asked, I'd request a giftcard so I could buy some games I had my eye on.
But before that i figured I should test the process out and finally used my original gift card. I found out Puzzle Bobble was available to download. (This will be too long if I go into it. So I'l just say that I have a very special place in my heart for this game and it's a treasured memory of me and my Mum) So I got it. Just as I remembered it. Very fun and nice to play once in a while, for Mum too (we take turns playing).
Then part 2 of the grand plan comes.
It has a two player option. We used to play 2 player. What if we could do that again now?
Well for that you'd need a second controller. (since I very rarely/if ever have anyone to play games with I usually only have one controller. Mum's terrible with technology and my Dad's not here and I have no friends to come round and play. So I have no need of a second controller)
Ah. Well a second controller (provided it's not too expensive) would be an ideal thing to put on my list. Then, if nothing else, we could play Puzzle Bobble together at least.
Then from that came another idea.
How nice would it be to play games together at Christmas? I've seen various fun multiplayer games in videos. Some of them might work out for us too.
So this whole idea grew and settled over the months and became a solid plan. And if one or none of these things happened then it was okay.
So when my dad asked i gave him our suggestions.
I worried about it for a while but decided not to think about it as christmas got closer. If it happens it happnens. If not then not. Never mind.
The idea of bonding through competition/games had some analog backups.
I got some board games (only cheap but still, good enough) and I got a few stupid stocking filler kind of things for my dad, one of then being "mini tabletop football" game, a pretty stupid thing but I thought it might be fun. Maybe even more fun to take to my uncle's at Christmas (because I get quite bored there, even though I love seeing him because we only ever see him at christmas so that time should be appreciated, it gets very boring. Once basic conversation is out of the way we sit/stand there watching tv while he waits for his friend to call so we can take him there for his Christmas lunch on our way home. Also he's a HEAVY smoker.) It's red vs blue and my dad is Spurs (blue) and my uncle Arsenal (red) so there could be a fun battle perhaps. i didn't do that and it probably wouldn't have worked out but it was a nice thought.
My dad opened it when we got home and we played it for a while (It's just a stupid little rectangle with pinball style flippers on either side, red and blue, and a ball. It's all pretty cheap and silly but it's okay.)
Another thing to note. At the moment my dad's having some problems with his hip. It's uncomfortable for him to sit down too long. So throughout the day he needed to stand/walk around. Since our house is a mess and we've hidden various things that take up space in the rooms he doesn't go in so that the living room is at least passable to sit in, and since mum's busy in the kitchen and not at her best this year especially, we can't have him wandering around looking into things.
So having an activity to occupy him (and also myself) was very helpful. Normally at that time he'd sit and watch tv and I'd be left alone with my thoughts (never a good thing).
When he opened the present he had the exact reaction I'd expected. A "what's this?" *figures out what it is and finds it funny/stupid* "what a stupid thing" but said with an amused tone.
So we played it.
Neither of us will accept defeat (but in a relaxed not taking it too seriously kind of way) so we have to play again.
This occupied us for a while in friendly competition just as I has hoped. No negativity and any negative coments are said in a jovial way keeping in the spirit of playing a game and nothing hurtful or that could be mistaken as intentionally negative.
A little after he presents me with the requested game controller.
(I had decided what game I thought would create the mood I was going for and downloaded it the week before (I didn't want to do it too soon so as not to tempt fate but getting it on the day would have been dumb, took about 45-60 in total so definately something to do beforehand))
I inquired if he'd like to play but if not it was okay.
The game in question?
Gang Beasts. A silly fighting game that it's really really hard to take seriously and seems to have no long term goals to achieve (and controls that even I struggled with).
He hasn't played games in a while but sure why not?
We had some trouble setting it all up. I'd looked up how to add a second player (it's not like the old days when you just plug in a second controller. You need an account if you're going to play games. Even if I have a hard copy of the game and I'm not going to play online? Yes. And while you're at it taking your console online is no longer an option. It is a necessity. You MUST update your console. No opting out of it. You MUST update your game. Even if I don't play it? Yes.)
So I looked up how to do two player on xbox so as to be prepared for my Christmas plan if it happened, and if not, then at least be ready for when me and Mum might play Puzzle Bobble. Because there's no way she has an account and is unlikely to ever use one if she did so. Turns out my dad has an account so if we'd needed it he could've signed in with that. But no worries. You can "add guest" for immediate play.
But I'd only played Gang Beasts once when I got it just to test it out and get a feel for the controls. It's awful to play alone because it's intended for multiplayer and there's no instructions that I could find at the time.
We tried it and it didn't work out.
Since I'd never connected a second controller I wasn't sure what to do. And they're different controllers. He got me a basic one (which is perfect and just what I'd hoped for) but my original one is "elite" apparently which is more complicated.
So the second one wasn't connecting even though I'd added guest. It took a while to work out.
We looked through instructions. Got it to work. But then it didn't work on the game. Turns out it did and we just weren't using it right.
It was all fine and we figured it out.
Rather than fighting right away (which would be unfair because I knew the basic controls at least) I decided we should play a little 1v1 football game to ease us both into the controls but my dad moreso.
It devolved very quickly into a free for all point scoring thing because he wasn't listing to me but despite that it was all positive with no negatives and complaints were made and taken with an air of playfullness rather than anger.
Dinner was ready eariler (partly because it just was and partly because we got a turkey crown this year and it took less time to cook).
Here comes my only regret of the day.
I was so absorbed in sorting out the game issues and then playing that I forgot to provide Mum any assistance and gameplay went on as things started to come to the table.
Half way through (when we were having the technical issues) I did remember that she'd asked for my help and sorted that out. She'd needed me to move the table and while we were there we worked out a change to the seating plan since we didn't want to squish my dad at the end with his hip problems. It was fine. He had my usual seat and i sat at the other end of the table, opposite to the end he normally sits at.
Dinner went nicely and I didn't feel too bloated (I usually start struggling with dinner because I don't usually eat propper meals and it was especially bad last year because I accidentally served up too much turkey)
This year it was all just right. (I'd started feeling hungry an hour or so earlier too so that might have helped)
After dinner was unwrapping of the rest of the gifts. All well recieved by all and then we had another round of Gang beasts with a pause for pudding (which wasn't too bloating as dinner had been earlier).
The only problem there was that mum served mine with a bit too much cream. We suspect (though I've never asked to have it confirmed with a doctor) that I'm lactose intolerant (more on that another time if you really wish) so while I struggled to finish the cream, my dad (who eats a lot faster than me anyway) decided to take advantage and try to beat me in the game. He fell of the stage though so I won by default. Then gameplay continued a while until I started getting tired (It was about the right time to end it for all of us anyway) so I had no objections finishing with the game.
There you are.
Overall a nice day for all of us (at least so it seemed and I've heard nothing to the contrary).
The only way it could have been better is if mum hadn't had a cold, then she could have had more opportunity to enjoy the day but I think she was happy enough that it all went well and there were no problems.
So. There you are.
How to have a happy Christmas day when you're a moody, depressed creature with terrible social skills.
Have reasonable expectations, be a generally nice/good person and do an activity with your family that doesn't require communication, but you may communicate if you wish, that doesn't cause friction and can be taken all in good fun. And the best thing for me to do to have a nice day is stay out of my own head
It was a very nice day and that makes me happy.


  1. Danik 2016's Avatar
    Hi Bluebiird,

    Glad you are chirping again.
    Capital idea that of organizing game rounds with your father on Christmas.
    And you are a very communicative person on line.
    I hope you will find your Windows and be able to use the PC again.
    And I wish you a lucky 2020.