The true meaning of Christmas is a flannel shirt smelling of beer. - 01 January 2007

Christmas, 2006 edition. Every year more of the same, but I just love it.

Christmas stories: Olaf is one territory away from winning at Risk

Bart and OlgaFinally, after many years, our families met for one of those huge dinners that we skipped for the past 10 years.

Some died or left for different reasons, and it's quite ironic that because my oldest (and only) uncle got sick (liver cancer, but he's a fighter like everyone else in my family) his family couldn't go to the mountains like every year and decided to organize a revival.

Olaf I think I wrote it already in the past years Christmas reports: me and all my cousins always loved passing the Christmas surrounded by all the members of our family. We ate like pigs, we were allowed to drink champagne once or twice and even taste wine, and we could unwrap all the gifts brought by the others. It was great.

Marco's gay scarfUnwrapping gifts And spending time with my pregnant cousin and his husband (with his sister and fiancée added to our table), and my cousin, my sister, and all the adults left in the family (not many actually...) was a great achievement. We didn't fight or had problem once, and the orgy of glorious food and alcoholic drinks was just what I needed to be happy.

For two days (the 25th and the 26th) everything was perfect.
Simona, Olaf and Marco Flannel Brothers My and David got a flannel shirt similar to those shirts that our dads used when working on their travels across the world. I liked it so much that I practically lived in there for 4 days.
Then someone introduced the idea of playing Risiko (known in England as Risk) . With 5 players left the last day (me + my sister Olga, Davide + her sister Simona and Marco, her husband) we had a perfect number.

Now, we played Risk for almost 10 years, and stopped 10 years ago.
My oldest cousin (missing at the table) always won with his personal interpretation of the rules.

RiskRelationships were broken on a Risk table, and often tanks and flags were flying across the table, trying to hit someone else's eye socket.

But now we were all adults, so we should've played with that fair-play missing in kids.

Unfortunately, as soon as everyone got familiar with the rules, they got familiar with the danger involved with a game where your mission is usually to conquer the world or destroying your opponent.
Risk Dices were soon flying for an attack across the Bering land bridge from Alaska to the Kamchatka, attacks with a ratio to 15 to 3 tanks kept going from the Siam to the Indonesia to get access to the easy to get and defend Oceania.

No one cared about the poor Europe, and the biggest battles started and ended across the Northwest Territories to gain control of North America, or around Ukraine to conquer the might Asia.

My sister realized that from my position as last in the turn I could attack and risk whatever I wanted without worrying about counter attacks, and accused my of cheating. Ah, the words I was waiting to hear since 1994 "Olaf, you cheat in the same way you did when you were 9! I don't want to play with you anymore!"
The game was suspended and only after some begging restarted, this time with a time limit.

I was close to win for the first time since Brazil won that world cup in USA beating Italy at penalties ... just one territory to complete my goal (conquer Oceania and North America). Unfortunately my last attack 14 versus 7 ended up in a disaster, and glory slipped away one more time.

The game was over, with no winners, after many hours of play, since everyone was just too tired.

Never waste a drinkNever waste a drink We moved to the usual Texas Town for one last session of drinks. Session that I repeated for the next 2 days with my old friends.
And after few more liters of beer, grappa, whisky and long islands, it was time to say goodbye to all my companions.

Paolo, Me and WiiI went to Paolo's with the idea of just saying hello, merry Christmas and goodbye to him and his family (Very + three kids, one of them named Olaf: my hero), but I ended up staying almost 3 hours and eating lunch with them. The reason? He got a Nintendo Wii.
Olaf, Nicola and Davide I've never been a great fun of consoles and games in general since I realized I could easily get addicted many years ago. But playing with the Wii and its fantastic wireless controller at sports like baseball, boxing, golf etc… was one of the greatest experiences in my life as a videogame player. Probably the best since finishing Monkey Island .
Damn, it was that good!

Sometimes I wish I could stay more. Just to finish one whole game of Risk, win it, and brag about it for at least a year, or to use Paolo's Nintendo Wii even more.
Or maybe to just drink with my family and friends. Alcohol has a way of connecting people and memories in a way that nothing else does.

Merry Christmas folks, and happy New Year.

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