I bet the game became a turning point from child to young adult when the packages were opened beneath the tree. The large box that the game came in was probably held back as one of the last gifts to be doled out and when it came, we knew we were setting off on a new adventure.
I've written about this before, my indoctrination to APBA on Christmas Day 1977 when my parents handed me the 1976 football season. It was a detailed game, far more complex than the simple card games I had played before. Like I said, it was a step into being more than just a child. We graduated to a more adult game to play.
We probably saw the advertisements for the game in a sports magazine. A majority of those who play the APBA games first played baseball, and probably saw an ad in an old Street and Smith's baseball preview magazine. I did it backwards, not getting into that sport until 1998 when, in December of that year, as 38-year-old, I opted to buy myself a Christmas gift.
I remember then having the same feeling, the same excitement of embarking on a new thing, that I did as a child.
And that's the draw of this game. What makes us stick with it for so many decades? Most of the people I've seen who roll the dice and do replays began as children and then continued on. Oh, sure, they may have put away the game while in college or when they got married, or had kids. But they always came back to it eventually.
So how does APBA do it? Does it have the magical formula to recapture our youth? When we roll the dice and play the games, the difficulties of every day life go away for a while. Although the difficulties were different back then, the same thing happened when I played the football and later the basketball game. Problems at school in 1978? Roll a game. Fear of finances and mortgage interest rates in 2014? Roll a game.
We've all gotten other games for Christmas, but I venture not many have made the trip with us into adulthood. Somewhere along the way, they are put aside; we out grow them; other aspects of life interest us more.
But not the APBA game. It is our constant companion, our wingman in the journey of life. And that's what makes this so interesting. I can't really figure it out, as we near Christmas this year. I first came to the game as a kid, only worrying about grades, a budding romance with a high school girlfriend and the vagueness of college years looming ahead. Now, nearly 40 years later, after graduating college with bachelor's and master's degrees, after losing both my parents, after being married and then losing my wife to kidney failure, after changing jobs a few times and after establishing a news career I've had for three decades, I still play the very same game.
Life changes, but the game remains the same.
Maybe we do the replays to hold just a little longer to that past life, that time when we were kids and we were excited by the heavy package that our parents slid out from under the Christmas tree.
I won't have a package beneath the tree this year, but I did recently buy the 1972 set of baseball cards to play sometime. Like a kid, I felt the anticipation as I waited for them to arrive in the mail and then the excitement of opening them and poring through the cards, just as I did when I was a young lad and that first Christmas present came to me.