Halloween is over. Christmas decorations are popping up in Wal-Marts everywhere, or Tokyu Hands and Don Quixote if you live in Japan. The leaves are turning red, and Thanksgiving is in the air. My bones are tingling with another year of age behind me, but it’s not only because the cold air is finding newer and newer passages though my pores. My body is eagerly awaiting another annual smackdown from my Mom that’s set to occur when we sit around my Grandma’s TV for a few rounds of Tetris.

I never had an NES as a young kid. My parents deemed it too addictive for my personality, and twenty some-odd years later, I realize they were right.

The only machine I had at disposal sat  atop of my Grandmother’s television. Every trip to upstate Connecticut I got, I would lose myself in hours of jumping on Goombas or blasting away the throwaway pawns of the Red Falcon. Look it up kids.

When I moved to Wyoming, my parents finally bought me an NES with my Grandmother’s house significantly further away and no other way to satiate my habits. New games and a cheap rental store finally opened me up on how to follow video games through Nintendo Power and school ground rumors. I improved. I began putting tips and tricks to good use and beating the games I never could when I was five. I was the master of my domain, the sole gamer in my household.

Of course, it was my mother who bought me Tetris. No young boy ever wanted to play Tetris. I was too distracted by another quest with Link or Simon Belmont, so why would she buy it for me? I certainly didn’t ask for it.

Over the years, it dawned on me that my Mom was a bit of a Tetris junkie. Small flashbacks of being sent away from the television screen so my mother could have a turn on the NES became more explainable. Finding it mysteriously in my NES several times after coming home from school also raised my suspicions.

Years passed, and I was in middle school when we moved back to the east coast. My grandmother still had the old NES on top of her TV, and we still went there every Christmas. Sure enough, year after year, I could still spot my mother at some time during the week playing Tetris with my father and beating him every time, tossing in a dash of Dr. Mario here and there for good measure. I sat down for a round or two with her, but I still have yet to break her high scores.

College came, and so played the same story. My mind started to lose its quick 8-bit reflexes with the slower pace of hand-holding modern day video games. My mother, on the other hand, does not play Xbox 360 and hasn’t suffered from these mentally nullifying games. Despite the 20 year difference between then and now, she hadn’t lost a step. Every single year, she clobbered us all. Even up until last year during my annual trip home to the States, we pulled out the old NES at Grandma’s and had a go. Naturally, I lost.

The story is a little bit different this year though. Grandma has moved out of her house. I’m on the other side of the world and can’t make it home this holiday season. Apparently, Tetris isn’t my mother’s go to game anymore. My Uncle sat her down for a round or two in Rock Band to play on the drums while the rest of my family jammed, and before the end of winter vacation, she had every song completed with the drums on 100%, often times clearing the song perfectly on the first try.

She’s not even a gamer! Ugh, the nerve of some people. Stupid engineers.

Still, I inherited my grandmother’s NES when she moved out. I’m often dangerously sentimental, and I feel I need to keep that machine intact since it defined a huge part of my life. I even have the old Tetris cartridge, too. It’s a shame I won’t be around for the first time to get my tail whipped again. Feels like a part of this holidays is missing.

Tetris, Dr. Mario, and now apparently Rock Band. Fess up gamers. Which games does your Mom beat you at every holiday season?