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(Fixed) Winter Has Come (12/4/20) | main/menu with nicholas grayson

main/menu with nicholas grayson
(Fixed) Winter Has Come (12/4/20) | main/menu with nicholas grayson
By Nicholas Grayson • Issue #8 • View online
// Hello, welcome to main/menu, a weekly newsletter about video games. Every Friday, Fanbyte Social Editor+ Nicholas Grayson will hand deliver a bunch of words about the intersection between games and culture to your inbox. If you have questions or comments, you can hit me at niki@fanbyte.com.
Okay, time to do the newsletter! Apologies for the double send, but the last one broke, this one should be legible! //

Start Up
Hey! Welcome back to the newsletter. I hope you all had a restful and restorative holiday last week, and that this week was a smooth onramp back to work.
I spent the holiday at home with Barley, and we made some cookies out of Claire Saffitz’s new cookbook Dessert Person. They were great. I would show you a photo of my partner Kati and I’s Christmas tree this week but it broke the newsletter so you’ll have to imagine it.
In related news, there’s a new Christmas market in the husk of an old K-Mart near my apartment that Kati and I thought would be like Spirit Halloween, except with ornaments instead of plastic skulls. We were wrong. They just sell shitty t-shirts and snow globes. The K-Mart was two stories and this place didn’t even occupy a quarter of the first floor. Shit is terrible.
The Discourse
The holidays used to be hard for me because there was always such a large disconnect for me between the optics of the season and what I experienced.
The proverbial reason for the season – the birth of Christ being with your family – didn’t make me feel great, because I at times felt like I wasn’t welcome in my own house. Our family also wasn’t big enough to experience that rush of cousins and aunts and grandmas that my friends had every December. My grandma lived with us, and my grandpa came to the house almost every other week. The picturesque Hallmark Christmas was something that was seemed impossible to me. The holidays, then, were an extension of the norm; it just so happened to be cold instead of hot and I was seasonally depressed instead of regularly depressed.
The gift giving aspect of the season always made me feel bad, too. We didn’t have very much money growing up, my mom raising me and then my sister basically by herself with help from her own parents. (It took me a minute to actually put two and two together and re-calibrate the requests on my list – even though I put an iMac on the list every year, it just wasn’t in the cards.) When I did ask for stuff that was in the budget, I rarely got it. It hurt! It felt like my desires weren’t respected, and as a kid, that really does a number on your psyche. You can wish and wish all you want, but if those that can come true are blocked by your supposed support system, it’s hard to come back from that. It makes it hard to tell yourself, at the age of 25, that your needs and wants matter when you were shown and told that they didn’t when you were 13.
Now, I have my own job, my own income. I am in tune with my needs and my wants. I am lucky enough to have a partner who loves and respects me and encourages me to take what I need and fosters an environment where aspirations are both my own and achievable. I look forward to the holidays now, as an adult, because I am in control of what happens during them. And I like to use that newfound power to try to help little ones who might be in the same situation I was when I was 10 or 13.
The USPS runs an event every December called “Operation Santa” where all of the letters that are addressed to Santa and dropped into mailboxes are opened, scanned, and then uploaded to the internet, for other people to see. Donors can then adopt a letter, guaranteeing that the child’s Christmas wishes will come true.
Lots of these letters are incredible – it’s a window into child development that I rarely get anymore, now that I don’t live with my sister. You can see kids actively working out what their voice is in the way they write. You can see the time and effort that some kids put into their handwriting because this is a special occasion folks, we’re sending mail to fucking Santa Claus. There are kids with pure hearts who just want their parents to be happy, or to find a new job after they lost theirs in the pandemic. One heartbreaking letter asks for the ability to see a family member who passed away due to COVID-19.
The season is as much about love and care for yourself and those close to you as it is expressing that same love and care for folks you might not know. Literally every single person other than Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg is hurting right now. We have been summarily failed by our leaders and the new dude who will sit behind the dumbass desk in the White House in January doesn’t seem like he’s going to do anything tangible to help out. Mutual aid takes a lot of different forms, and I know for me, a lot of the time I focus on helping out other adults. But kids matter too. If your dreams are crushed and crushed and crushed again you’ll never dare to dream again.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. In the Good Stuff Zone, I’ve collected a handful of gaming related letters. Some kids want PS5s, obviously, but there’s one kid I found who wants a new PSP. One kid wants a pair of Switches so she can play Animal Crossing with her brother. You might not be able to help these kids specifically, but I encourage you to sift through the website and find a letter that you can adopt.
Now Playing
We’ve got two bangers in Now Playing this week.
The first is a piece from the wonderful Natalie Weiner on ways to codify and reinforce systems to allow people other than “the first” to do things. This piece is about Sarah Fuller, the first woman to play in a Power Five college football game when she suited up as a kicker for Vanderbilt last week.
How To Celebrate History Without Erasing It
The second is from Featured Contributor Natalie Flores, who wrote about the impeccable romantic writing in the new game Haven, which is out on PC and Game Pass.
Many Games Have Romance, but Few Do It as Exquisitely as Haven
Loading Screen
We are in the middle of making our slate of Game of the Year coverage for y'all! We’ve got podcasts, lists, and videos on deck. Jordan, Steven and I recorded a great podcast about games coming out next year that we’re looking forward to.
We talked a lot about Halo Infinite, a real game that is absolutely coming out.
Sound Test
We’re about to rename our podcast Office Hours to something that has less poisoned SEO, so John, LB, and I hopped on a call to talk about what the show should be called moving forward. (This is one of the best episodes of WCOH we’ve done in a minute, give it a listen!)
West Coast Office Hours – Friend Reunion
Good Stuff Zone (GSZ)
Before I link you to some kids who want video games this holiday season, let me show you this great picture I took of my dog and Kati. Barley’s helping to put the star on our tree and she’s having a great time, I promise.
loogit my babey
loogit my babey
Let’s get into the letters:
christopher knows what's up
christopher knows what's up
If you adopt a letter and send me proof of the fact that you got someone a gift, I’ll send you a personalized video. It’s like Cameo except I’m not the Undertaker and it won’t cost $600.
The Closer
Thanks to everyone who reached out with birthday wishes this week. And a big, big thank you to Taylor + our Discord mod team for my birthday fancam. :)
Be safe, wear a mask, have a good weekend.
Adios.
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Nicholas Grayson

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