Happy 20th Birthday, Sega Genesis

Almost 20 years later, the Genesis still represents my favorite childhood Christmas.

I want to recount the story for you here—I really do. The feeling of running down the stairs that morning, tearing into a tower of gifts balanced on one of the tall, pink chairs of our formal living room. I want to tell you about almost opening a small, rectangular box just two gifts into the unwrapping (one with an eerie resemblance to the size and shape of a Sega Genesis game box), before my parents recommended I work my way through the the pile in a different direction to save the pièce de résistance for last.

But to tell this story again, the pinnacle of my Christmas experience, one properly softened by a Vaseline-coated lens while simultaneously sparkling with double starburst filters, feels disingenuous.

You see, I wrote it all down on paper once before. I was 10, putting me in fifth grade. Still obsessed with my Genesis, this tale of Christmas morning 1992 (late adopter) would be the perfect narrative for the English portion of Mrs. Lustig's class. And I have little doubt that my adultish perspective—one that has difficulty tuning out today's culture for a time when kids only got gifts for big holidays, one that is so spoiled it can call in any toy at any time from any company—has clouded the importance of that Sega Genesis to me. I'll simply never recapture the unbridled love placed on paper via number 2 pencil with this clunky Macbook keyboard I'm typing on now. And an LCD does so little justice to childhood memories when compared to a piece of looseleaf, pulled without regard from a spiral notebook.

The Sega Genesis was my Red Ryder BB gun. It offered me the elation of its receipt, the disappointment of Tazmania and the eventual perspective that memories will forever be altered by the ones that follow. I'm not sure I'll ever relive a moment quite like ripping through paper to find, in complete shock, that I'd gotten exactly what I'd wanted that Christmas. But there's always next year.