Greetings, fellow gamers!

My name is Jonny and I like games.

The new generation of consoles is finally here, (unless you count the Wii U, which I do).  In that case, the new generation of consoles has been here for a while now.  With all the exciting buzz about brand spanking new consoles, I began reminiscing about my years as a gamer.

I didn't look so much at all the games I had played, but rather the times I spent playing with my friends.  I recalled some of my earliest gaming memories, like when I played Mike Tyson's Punch Out and Super Mario Bros. with my cousins at a family reunion, arguing over who would get the controller next. 

I also remembered playing Knights of the Round and Clay Fighters at my best friend's house.  Then we would go to my house and play Atomic Bomberman and LEGO Island on my PC. 

I thought back to the days of playing Golden Eye and Need For Speed with my older brother.  I would become frustrated to the point of tears whenever I couldn't win, which was often.

Some of my fondest gaming memories came from the late night Halo 2 LAN parties.  We got all hyped up with concoctions of Red Bull, Mountain Dew and Pixie Stix, stuffed our faces with pizza and Doritos, and then we would play Capture the Flag till the wee hours of the morning.

But the thing I thought about the most was how I got my Xbox 360.  Like I mentioned earlier, I was thinking about my gaming memories with my friends, and my friends had a significant role in my acquisition of the previously mentioned Xbox 360.

Allow me to give you some context to this story.  The year was 2009.  Many of my friends owned an Xbox 360.  I would have owned one too, if it hadn't been for my poor health.  Before, I would have purchased my games with the money I earned at work.  But then I became seriously ill, to the point where I had to quit college and my job.  To keep things short, I was out of commission for a few years.  I'm doing much better these days, but things were grim for a while.

At this point, the worst was behind me, but I was still too weak to return to work or college.  Obviously, without a job, I was unable to dive into the next generation of consoles at the same time my friends did.  Even so, my friends would always invite me over to play Halo 3 with them.  They always had extra controllers at hand, so I never felt left out.

Once I was finally well enough to start considering my return to school, I started saving my money again.  I would have loved to buy an Xbox 360, but going to college was more important to me.  After applying and being accepted into my school of choice, I began my preparations.

By the way, this particular group of friends I'm referring to are people I know from my church.  We grew up in the youth group together, and after we graduated high school, we were a part of the Young Adults College/Career class during the Sunday School hours.

One day, I met with my friends to play some Halo 3.  Out of the blue, they randomly asked me,

"Hey Jon, do you know?"

Puzzled, I replied, "Do I know what?"

Then they all laughed and exclaimed,

"Hey guys!  Jon doesn't know!"

This went on for over a month.  They kept pestering and teasing me with the same question.  And each time, they laughed and kept me in the dark about what was going on.  I was mildly annoyed, but I let it slide each time, and never thought much of it.

On an obscure, seemingly unimportant Sunday in February, I walked into my Sunday School class, where all my friends were waiting for me.  They were all smiling, like they were hiding something.

"Hey, Jon!" they said mischievously.  "Today, you're finally going to know!"

A strange mix of emotions filled me suddenly.  A combination of curiosity, puzzlement, and, most of all, alarm.  What were they talking about?  What was I finally going to know?  Why were they smiling that way? What was in that plastic bag next to them?

One friend beckoned me over, reached into the plastic bag, and he pulled out a...

Giant spool of red yarn.

Before, I was merely puzzled.  Now I was completely baffled.  I stared at the yarn, unsure of what to make of it.  My friend then took one end of the yarn, gave it to me, and told me to hang on to it.  Then he told me to wait five minutes, and then follow the red yarn.  He walked out of the room, unwinding the spool of yarn as he left, leaving a long red trail of yarn behind him.

As I waited, my friends snickered and looked at me excitedly.  After five minutes, they told me to follow the red yarn.  Against my better judgement, I did.

My church is a rather large building, with two wings, a sanctuary, a gym, and a full basement.  This trail of red yarn led me throughout the entire building.  The trail weaved into several different class rooms, only to lead me back out and continue down the halls.  As I entered each room, I disturbed the classes that were happening, and everyone stared at me, looking just as confused as I felt.

"What are you doing, Jon?" they asked.

"Just following the trail." I sheepishly replied.

The trail led me down one wing, into the basement, in and out of classrooms, all the way to the opposite side of the building, into the gym, back out of the gym, up the stairs, down the second wing, until the trail led me to a closed door.  Behind that door was my Sunday School class, the place where I had first started.

Opening the door, I see all my friends there, with the same mischievous grins on their faces.  Looking around, I noticed the trail of yarn led into a storage cabinet.  Whatever was at the end of this yarn was inside that cabinet.

"Open it," they told me.

A thought had suddenly occurred to me.  A few weeks ago, as a practical joke, I hid inside that very cabinet and scared the bejeezus out of my teacher when she opened the door.  Anticipating a similar trick, I braced myself and opened the door.  Never in a million years would I have guessed what was inside.

On the shelf, was an Xbox 360, with the red yarn wrapped around it and tied into a bow.  For a moment, I was stunned.  Then out of great excitement, I turned and exclaimed,

"No way!"

I looked at the Xbox 360 again.  Then turning back to my friends, I asked,

"Are you guys serious?"

They all smiled, the signs of mischief no longer present on their faces.

"It's all yours," they said.

I could hardly believe it!  Since I had been ill and unable to work, I couldn't afford to buy one.  Now that I was leaving soon for school, I couldn't buy one then either.  So my friends had all decided to chip in and buy me a brand new Xbox 360.  Overwhelmed with joy, I couldn't hold back my tears.  

I took out the Xbox 360 from the cabinet, and as I did I noticed something.  Everyone who had chipped in had signed their names on the console, forever commemorating that amazing day.  Not only did they buy me the console, but they also bought an extra controller, three games (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Fable 2, and Halo 3) and a subscription to Xbox Live Gold.

I couldn't ask for better friends.  Not because they bought me an Xbox 360, but because they cared about me enough to go to such extremes just to surprise me.  They were there for me when I was feeling ill.  They always included me in their gaming sessions.  And since I was leaving for school soon, I could now still be a part of that, thanks to their wonderful gift.  I will always be grateful to them.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed my story!

Stay tuned, folks!