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Christmas Conundrum

By: vkimo
Christmas Conundrum

Growing up, it was just my brother and me. He battled with a speech impediment all through elementary and took supplementary classes to help develop his pronunciation. In his universe TMNT was “Tennage Mootunt Nenga Tortlews”, Inspector Gadget was “Spektr Gedjet” and Heathcliff was “Garfield.” (You totally saw that coming) He had no learning disabilities, he was actually a pretty average student but for some reason  had trouble with language. I’m just laying this out there now as it all becomes painfully clear in the end.

It was Christmas time in the early 90s, I was still rocking Underoos and watching Married with Children when my mom wasn’t paying attention. Around this time the buzz around the playground was for this mystical machine known as the Super Nintendo. Some said it had 16 bits, others claimed it's graphics were so good you couldn’t tell the difference between the games and real life. One thing we all did know, it was sold out everywhere...I was hyped as a kid could be and would ramble on about the specs and games to my brother, but he had no interest whatsoever.

He recently discovered the VHS copy of Empire Strikes Back and was enthralled. One character in particular stood out to him, Yoda. He was small, just like my brother. He had pointy ears, just like my brother. Most importantly though he talked funny, just like him! Yet unlike him, Yoda was a mega cool, ultra powerful warrior. He wanted to be like Yoda, and in his young mind that meant official Star Wars merchandise.

Since we were only 2 years apart and interacted so much I was his unofficial translator at times. If my parents, the waitress, etc couldn’t understand him I could usually make out what he said. Not all the time though...sometimes I hadn’t a clue and felt bad for the guy. While I kept nagging my folks about a Super Nintendo, my little brother only wanted one thing, a toy Yoda. A simple 7 dollar plastic figurine, nothing compared to the $200 state of the art graphic rendering machine I wanted. Even though this was the early 90s and the Kenner Power of the Force lines hadn’t come out, I felt tracking down a Yoda figure would be a piece of cake for my folks while my SNES dreams seemed bleak, especially with the scarcity of stock. At least my brother would be happy.

All day long, “Maum caan I hab a toy Yodeh for Crissmas?” He was persistent to say the least. He spent evenings after school doodling green blobs on his notebook while reciting classic Yoda lines like “Do orb do nawt iz no twy” and “Hrrmm!” I was more subtle, like cutting out the SNES picture from adverts and laying them on my dad’s dresser. I even offered to chip in with my piggy bank funds! This was the usual routine for us every Christmas season, looking back I almost feel I wasted that time so frenzied over the latest toy and not enjoying the season, oh well.

Fast forward a few weeks and were deep in December. The Christmas tree was looking pretty bountiful but no SNES shaped boxes, and I would know because my buddy Raymond had a SNES and I spent a fair amount of time holding the box and looking at the awesome graphics while he played. I can’t say I was worried, more like freaking the Tom Jones out.  I could just imagine returning to school after X-Mas break to the chatter of kids droning on about  Super Mario and magic mushrooms, ironically a subject that would arise again among the kids years later in high school.. All the while my little brother pretended to lift objects with his mind and wear an itchy burlap rice bag with a cutout for his head and butchering Jedi maxims, I had to love the guy...

Christmas Day came upon us in all its commercialistic grandeur. Like natural predators, we picked off the herd of presents. First we targeted the stocking stuffers; slap bracelets, Kit Kat bars and Micro Machines. Then we suffered through the distant relative’s offerings of socks and knittings. After that we got to the good filler presents, A Nerf gun set  and The Grape Escape board game. We were left with two final presents, I’ll spare you the suspense. By this point I could sniff out a SNES buried under a slab of Playdoh and I knew the rectangular wrapped box was it. That didn’t stop my jubilation as I tore open off the wrappers and watched as the fragmented paper gave way to a brand spanking new Super Nintendo. It was during this glorious moment that I noticed my brother dumbly holding a half unwrapped Tonka.

Not sure what that was, but I looked stoked!

My euphoric high suddenly crashed as I saw my little brother’s eyes welling up, like a champ though he held back the tears and didn’t brat up the morning. My mom noticed right away and cheerily added, “I know you wanted a truck but we thought a dump truck was so much cooler!”

Then it hit me….

Toy Yoda...Toyoda…..Toyota….

All along they thought he wanted a pickup truck! I later clarified to my parents what he was asking for. They felt terrible and my dad tried for weeks to get a Yoda but without the internet that was a serious quest. Inevitably as kids often do, my brother waned from his Star Wars phase and moved onto other things. His speech is fine now but I’ll always look back fondly when I was one of the few who could understand him and the strange little world he lived in. This Christmas I plan to surprise him with a Hot Toys Yoda which is pretty much the creme de la creme of Yodas. Funny enough that it costs as much as the SNES did back in the day, but I think it will be a fun gift. In all actuality Christmas gifts are usually nothing more than pleasant formalities but every once in awhile you get to gift someone something with special meaning. Hopefully this will be one of those occasions.   Merry Christmas folks!

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Superman Posted on Jan 01, 2017 at 05:46 PM

Wow! I could really feel your poor brother's disappointment. I've never been gifted something someone mistakenly thought I wanted, but I'm sure the disappointment would be twice as bad than just plain not getting what you asked for. Incidentally, as both a Star Wars fan and a Nintendo lover, I can relate to both of your Christmas gift wishes.

vkimo Posted on Dec 14, 2016 at 02:02 AM


Grape Escape is so sadistic looking back now haha. That's funny you mention Aliens, my brother had this weird thing where all he could write was "Aliens" he would scribble it everywhere. I always thought it was impressive since he was like 4 years old and could spell it correctly haha

echidna64 Posted on Dec 14, 2016 at 12:47 AM

Awesome article Vkimo, I'm glad your brother still had a sweet Christmas! Extra points for the The Great Grape Escape board game! haha

One birthday when I was really young, I was really into the Aliens toys but when I couldn't say the letter "L", it sounded like "R" instead. So when my aunt asked me what I wanted I told her "Ariens" or "Aryans" haha Luckily, the guy at the toy store figured it out (it must have been a common issue). But could you imagine? "My nephew would like your latest Aryans toy" lol

Hoju Koolander Posted on Dec 13, 2016 at 06:37 AM

Another great Christmas tale. The disappointment your little brother experienced is heartbreaking, but it's great that he had a sibling who understood him. It's crazy to think of that limbo period of no readily available Star Wars toys.

I feel a special connection to this story since Yoda was my nickname as an infant and as a result I had quite a few items of Yoda merchandise growing up. I would have gladly donated some to your brother had I known you guys back in the day.

Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Dec 13, 2016 at 02:54 AM

Aww... that sucks. Kind of funny though, it will probably be a nice story to tell the children one day.

NLogan Posted on Dec 12, 2016 at 10:43 PM

I don't know about a hot toys Yoda but I passed once on a pretty cool one that was 1:1 size. I could have picked it as part of a costume contest win. Instead of going all for one thing I decided to get lots of little things. Too bad your bro never got one, cool that you are going to finally get him his Christmas wish.

vkimo Posted on Dec 12, 2016 at 04:35 PM

@micky- My wife told me about that shortly after I told her about the article. Although in this case it was a Hooters restaurant doing the prank as a sales contest, the waitress sued though. I guess the confusion for Yoda and pickups isn't ungrounded, which should cheer him up haha

mickyarber Posted on Dec 12, 2016 at 03:59 PM

Holy crap man. Your article last year struck a nerve with me, and now you bust out this Christmas classic. I know it may have been years ago, but I'm sitting here today feeling so sorry for your bother.

This is a really good tale, and the pictures you chose are spot on. Nice work.

As a side note, I remember a radio station running a contest back in '99 for a new Toyota. They had all kinds of entries, but it turned out all they were giving away was a "toy Yoda" as a tie in to the new Star Wars movie. There were a lot of angry people who claimed false advertising. It wasn't pretty.

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 12, 2016 at 09:03 AM

Awwww... man. Talk about disappointment. I'm guessing your parents were hitting every thrift store and yard sale they could find to try and make things right, to no avail. Bummer.

But hey, an SNES! LOL. I can just see you pounding away gleefully on that controller while occasionally looking over at your bro and sighing before refocusing on the 16 bit glory.

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