The Arms Race

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My memories of Thanksgiving are always the same. There is turkey, pumpkin pie, and the embrace of relatives.

Oh. And automatic weapons.

It wasn’t always that way. A few years ago someone thought it would be fun to buy a few of those little Nerf guns for the kids. As it is in any conflict, however, it is difficult to control the damage once the first foam bullet flies through the air.

Before long, the single shot pistols were considered insufficient. Semi-automatic guns became the norm, then automatic rifles. This year, the war escalated to a whole new and terrifying level. My brothers bought their kids battery powered, “full auto blasting” machine guns with high capacity clips and 3-dart-per-second rapid fire capability. One even came with its own tripod.

I didn’t stand a chance.

I’m old school. With a couple of reliable pistols I believed I could beat anyone. A trusty six shooter and a little savvy could take down any opponent, and I didn’t care what they were carrying. Besides, high tech weaponry had no place in the honorable field of battle (my mom’s basement).

Remember the movie “Final Countdown”, when USS NIMITZ is transported back in time to fight the WWII era Japanese fleet prior to Pearl Harbor? My nephews and nieces were NIMITZ and her F-14 Tomcats. I was a zero.

They were the Terminator. I was the little kid running around trying not to get killed.

How bad was it? Once, in the heat of battle, I ran from one doorway to another – a space of about three feet – and was shot three times in the belly button by a girl I once knew as a sweet little toddler with rose-colored cheeks and a smile that would brighten any room.

The joy and comfort of family get-togethers has (unfortunately) taken a back seat to the battle in the basement. When the kids grow up, their memories of Grandma’s house will not necessarily consist of a perfectly browned turkey and homemade mashed potatoes, although they should. They’ll remember the time Uncle Jeff was annihilated by three foam bullets as he futilely fired his ancient dart pistol at empty air.

But that won’t stop me – or anyone else for that matter – from keeping it going. Because no matter how good the last battle was, the next one will be better.

It is the anticipation, I think, that makes the holidays so special, and our family is no different. Replace “gifts and the holiday spirit” with “full auto blasting machine guns and high capacity clips” and it’s all the same.

Besides, the magic of the season is brought about by being with those you love, and in that regard we are all similar. Seeing the family again and spending time together is something each of us cherishes. It gives us an opportunity to show our affection to those closest to us.

And in the basement of Grandma Bacon’s house, affection is defined as three foam bullets to the belly button.

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