The Best Gift of All…And A Special Thank You Gift


First…let me start by saying that Alissa isn’t aware of this post. I’m sneaking it in, and hope that you all understand why by the end of what I am going to write here.

After what has clearly been one of the most contentious years in many decades, I think we are all breathing a slight sigh of relief that at least during the next few days, no matter how or what you celebrate this time of year, can be yours to embrace and savor.  I personally, love the Christmas season. At the age of of almost 63 (on New Year’s Day), it is absolutely impossible to target any single Christmas memory as “the best ever.”  Choosing a favorite Simpson’s Christmas episode is difficult enough…and there are only a handful of them.

What I do know, is that my favorite two movies this time of year, both of which we watch faithfully with the kids every Christmas Eve, are “It’s a Wonderful LIfe” and the Goerge C. Scott version of “A Christmas Carol.”  For me, the reason they resonate so strongly, is that they are both stories of men gone astray, and then finding salvation and a second chance for redemption.

I can honestly say that I have had far more second chances in life than any man deserves.  But, part of that gift is understanding when one has been handed to you, and knowing to appreciate it.

I had exactly one of those “Chances for Redemption” this year…

Anyone who knows the crazy twists and turns of the relationship that Alissa and I shared over the past three years, would never, ever, ever, ever, (ever?) have laid bets that I would be writing this post, on this blog site today. As in, never.

And yet, through the grace of a meeting, on a whim, when I realized that no matter what happened with TSTOFriends, I just HAD to meet Alissa in person, a chance for “redemption” was offered…and accepted.  It is a moment in time that was so clearly a crossroads for me, that it is almost as if nothing beforehand in our stories, troubled past, ever happened.

Without going into detail, (because frankly, it is our own personal business) suffice it to say that “two old (one much older) TSTO heads of family, decided that putting away our differences, getting over old injuries, and working together” was a good idea.  I was tired. I was frizzle-fried…and she knew that we still shared a spark of friendship that could be grown into a form of trust from which two veterans of the TSTO wars could benefit. A deal was sealed. And I have never been more grateful for the chance to stay in the game, without having to carry the sole burden each day.

But most of all, we have navigated some very choppy waters together in the past few months that make me realize that strife burnishes the strength of a friendship like nothing else can.  Let’s be honest…there are some aspect of the game, and the world at large, that can make turning on the padular device every day a bit of a challenge. But, knowing that Alissa is just a text away, and will likely share the exact same emotions about world events or game-play that I do, is a comfort.

Make no mistake about it. When it comes to many topics…we are almost polar opposites. Politics, religion, sports teams…almost nothing in common by today’s benchmark of “what constitutes a friend.”  But, surprisingly, even though she is of the same age as my daughters, I have found that leaning on her wisdom, and her instinct to “try to say something nice, or not at all” is a lesson that I continue to learn, even in my current state of “crank-i-tude.”

You benefit from her patience, and dogged determination to provide you with the details of the game (of which she does 95% of the posts on this site). I benefit from her friendship and lessons in forgiveness. And again…who can be mad when Riley is in mix??

I can’t thank her enough, for the chance to “go out gracefully” at a time when I felt nothing close to graceful when deciding to shut down TSTOFriends.  I don’t regret what we did at “Friends,” I made loads of wonderful friends there, and the work we started and continue to do through Friends of Buyijja will continue for my lifetime and beyond. Many of those friends and readers have followed me here…and miss my “Cranky side,” as I rambled on about life events, world views, and the game (mostly in that order). I smile every time I see a name I recognize in comments.

Thanks and gratitude.  It is a feeling that should be prevalent in all of our lives…as we are lucky to be here, in this community that Alissa made for all of us.

What I do know, is that Alissa is a VERY TRADITIONAL person when it comes to Christmas. And just like Scrooge, I was once a child who celebrated this holiday like no other.

More than 20 years ago, my mother and I wrote a book of family memories for a Christmas gift to our family. One of the “novelettes” in this expanded book, was one I wrote about my memories of Christmas as a boy, growing up in Portland, Oregon in the early 1960s.   As a small token of my appreciation for the season, I offer it to you here, as a download.  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

There is an innocence in the style, as I was channeling the emotions of a child. And yet, as I said before…if you are wise, you continue to learn the lessons that this season is really all about, long after you are cranky and old.

To all of you who have embraced my “encroachment on hallowed ground” here at TSTOAddicts (and even to those of you who still can’t let go of grudges long formed), I offer you the very best wishes for the coming year.

The Merriest Christmas, The Happiest New Year, and my sincere wishes that “you get everything you deserve” in the games of TSTO and life!

With warmth and affection…a FAR LESS CrankyOldGuy.

Yes…to all of you who keep asking in emails…I am THAT Patric Miller who did the music for the Claymation Christmas Carol in the 1980s.  If you want to know the full story, and here the can go here.


49 responses to “The Best Gift of All…And A Special Thank You Gift

  1. Remember no man is a failure who has friends.


  2. As one cranky guy to another (slightly older) cranky guy… I heartily agree, and have had to learn some similar lessons over and over myself: we can *all* benefit from the wisdom of others, regardless of age — especially where our tempers are concerned! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Patric, et al!


  3. Patric, thank you so much for sharing your “process” of redemption. I, too, am one who stands in awe of the “grace and kindness” that leads me to forgiveness! So redemptive, so undeserved. Bless your 2017. RevJRO, Rev Janice


  4. We just watched a claymation christmas again on Christmas Eve. We Three Kings can never be the same without the camel chorus, its a Christmas staple for us. Never knew there was a connection behind that and our fabulous little simpsons game!


  5. I love this post, Patric! I would have never ever ever (ever) thought you would be back here, but I’m SO happy to have you. I love a good redemption story and this is one for the TSTO ages. To be honest, this story (which I am familiar with) has taught me a little something about forgiving and moving on as well. So thank you to both of you, Patric and Alissa. May we move into the new year with fresh eyes and open hearts!


  6. Super fascinating story! I loved this special as a kid and rewatching the videos was a fun blast from the past. Thanks for sharing!


  7. May I just say that “Claymation Christmas” is a family favorite and tradition in my household. We’ve watched it every Christmas Eve for the last 30 years or so and just introduced it to my 14 month old nephew last night. He very much enjoyed “We Three Kings” (my favorite!) and started dancing to it.


  8. I very much loved the CR’s Claymation Christmas special, the obsertity of dinosaurs and raisin people mixed with traditional music with a more upbeat flair – really is one of my first childhood inspirations to be the Think-Outside-The Boxer I am today. Creative inspiration. It was great, though I haven’t seen it in years I can vividly remember the tune/beat of Rudolph, We three kings/star of wonder, and of course the various Here We Come A Wasling (waddling/waffling). (I’ve never knew when the right time was to share this, so now is good 😊)

    Creativity inspires more creativity (it’s like Love in that regard). which makes me wonder, California Raisin’s promoted spiritualism and years later there is this thing called VegiTales (huh). If only they (VegiTales) had better music, and animation, I might respect them.

    so again, even without knowing it Patrick, you made this little tot grow up to be the Totbox I am today (it’s not all your fault but I think you had a small hand in my creative origin story without knowing it).


    • Ah….the creativity circles comes ’round again. Thanks much, Tot.
      I’ll have to post a link to the DVD version, as loads of people seem to have been missing this.


  9. Merry Christmas Patric! One of the lessons I keep learning in life is that it’s short, so enjoy, be kind to others and learn to forgive as none of us is perfect. I’m glad you found your way back to Alissa and I’m sure she is relieved to have the much needed help.
    I hope your Christmas is filled with love & happiness.
    Thank you so much for all your hard work, even when people aren’t so nice.
    HH woof


  10. Aww man that’s cool and hilarious that you did the music for claymation Christmas because I spent the season trying to find that on dvd! My family always puts out our little set of California raisins figures for Christmas. Thanks for being a part in the making of one of my favorite Christmas memories. Merry Christmas!!!


  11. I’m a new participant here (less than a year, and less than 10 posts), but i have enjoyed your plays, Patric, and seeing this story unfold. It gives me a “warm fuzzy” feeling, and hope. I have had more than a few severed relationships, some of which can’t be redeemed (due to the other person passing), and i am thankful for your healed relationship, and looking forward to the potential of and hope of redemption in my future. Thanks for all ALL of you do on this board, and looking forward to 2017


    • In Holland we have a television show called “Family Diner” where they try to mend the relations over a fancy inimitable diner. One of the initiative makers is a family member who wants to restore a normal family relation, but can’t make it on his/her own. Most of the times it works, but there are stubborn people who still don’t want to restore normal relations 😦


  12. Merry Christmas 🙂


  13. Merry Christmas, Patric! Thanks for all the great posts this year and looking forward to many more in 2017 😁


  14. Just realised we share the same surname ! Merry Christmas Patric.
    I wish yourself & the rest of the TSTO addict family all the best.


  15. Merry Christmas Patric.

    …and another Merry Christmas and best wishes for the holiday season to everyone else on TSTOA from jolly old England. 🎅🏼🎄


  16. Merry Christmas/Hanukah and winter Holidays to all. Let us aim for a great 2017. Thanks Patric! Suddenly at 52 I don’t feel so old for the game!

    Liked by 1 person

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