There are a couple of traditions that happened every Christmas at my house when I grew up. The first was opening a single gift on Christmas Eve because my little sister and I could never hold our excitement for very long. Usually, we’d have the choice of any gift under the tree, and I’d always try to find the one that had a game in it, which I failed at every time.

Realm of Memories is a series where we reflect on our absolute favorite moments in The Legend of Zelda games. These could be the times we first fell in love with a game, were moved by the events of the story or actions of a character, felt triumphant when overcoming a tough boss or challenge, or we had an experience so unique that the adventure truly became our own. The Zelda series has touched our lives in many ways, and just as Hyrule has endless stories to share, so do our writers!

This is because the second tradition was for our gifts to be put into other oddly shaped boxes so we’d never know what we got until we went through said box. My mother knew all too well my tendencies to look for obvious gift shapes and would put gifts she thought I’d like on their own and not put them in stranger containers. I remember one year I was so sure which of my presents was a video game and I opened in on Christmas Eve only to find the disappointment of getting a bunch of stickers. Looking back, it’s kind of painful to think of how spoiled a kid I was, but I digress.

The Christmas of 1998 is one I’ll never forget. I did my usual skimming of all the presents under the tree, trying to analyze and figure which one might be what I asked my parents as well as Santa for this year. A lot of my days at school and at home were spent daydreaming about all the wonderful things I might’ve received, and the allure of all that wrapping paper kept me entranced for days on end. On top of that, I just loved the general feeling of the holidays. It was the time when us kids would always act on our best behavior, and our parents would put aside any arguments they had to try and make us kids have the best possible Christmas they could.

And so finally, Christmas day came around. My sister and I woke up at the earliest possible time we could, which I believe was around 6am. We would run into our parents room, shouting, “It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! Santa came by and brought gifts too! Wake up! Wake up!” The anticipation grew, however, as we all had to take turns opening presents and I was just as excited to watch my other family members open their gifts as I was my own.

I was pretty satisfied with what I’d gotten, but I felt that pang of disappointment; I had really wanted the new Zelda game that just came out, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. But then, my mother muttered something that perked me right up.

“Oh, wait! I forgot, there’s a gift for you in my room, Zack! Let me go get it!”

She came back with a rectangular present that had me all sorts of confused. What the heck is this even supposed to be? Curiously, I opened it, only to find out that it was, of all things, a soda case. I lifted it thinking perhaps my mother bought me some soda and saved it as a final Christmas gift, but it was also very light so that couldn’t have been the case.

She told me to open it and I found bits of foam inside. And then, at the very bottom, I saw an oh-so-familiar-looking box and my face immediately lit up. There at the bottom of this soda case was a Nintendo 64 box. It was Ocarina of Time.

I was absolutely elated. Up to this point, I’d only ever played Zelda II, so this was very exciting. I didn’t have any idea that A Link to the Past existed, so as far as I was concerned, this was the latest Zelda game to come out in a long time. Every other present was immediately put on the back burner, and I raced back to my room and spent the rest of the day playing as the Hero of Time and experiencing an unforgettable adventure which would change my life in ways I’d never even know. 

Ever since that day, I always correlate that particular brand of soda with Ocarina of Time. And that’s all thanks to my mother putting my gift in a soda case for Christmas.

Related Topics