The Greatest Gift

It was December 21, 2004, the first day of Winter, and snow blanketed the city of Memphis. I was in town for a few days, spending the days between when school got out and christmas, like I did every year, with my dad and his family in Tennessee. I loved snow days in Memphis, and in anticipation of not being able to drive anywhere, we packed some clothes and went to my grandparents house, content and excited to be stuck together for the foreseeable future. My aunt Kathryn was over there too, but was determined to brave the slick snowy roads to give me the greatest christmas gift ever. You see, December 21st was the dvd release date of one of my favorite movies of all time, a movie that aunt Kathryn had introduced me to on my fourteenth birthday just a few months prior, on the night she took me out to dinner and a movie to celebrate. Sitting at Outback Steakhouse, we scrolled through movie times on her phone, trying to find a film that might spark our interest, when we came across a film called Napoleon Dynamite. The description sounded good, so we finished the dinner and went to the movie, one of the greatest decisions that anyone has ever made.

Napoleon Dynamite was and probably still is, my favorite comedy movie, with so many quotable lines from all the characters, and the best dance scene the cinema has ever seen, so needless to say, I was looking forward to having my own personal copy to watch at will. I knew the release date and my aunt knew that she was getting it for me as a christmas gift; it was just understood that since she introduced me to Napoleon, she would be the one to further my journey with him by giving me the movie. I remember standing in my grandparents spare bedroom at my granddad’s desk, making phone calls to businesses in the area, trying to find a store that was open despite the snow and was selling Napoleon Dynamite. Believe it or not, the store that came through for us was Blockbuster, a place that no longer exists. My aunt bid me farewell and pulled out onto the road, promising that she would return with the movie.

It seemed like it took hours for aunt Kathryn to get back, but in reality it was probably not that long at all. I stayed outside the entire time, playing in the snow in the front yard, looking down the street for the first sign of her car coming back. When she finally arrived it was one of the greatest feelings I ever had, anticipation and excitement, giddiness and joy as I held Napoleon Dynamite in my hands for the first time. My dad and I watched it twice that night, back to back with no break in between, the theater version and then the extended version with commentary. I absolutely love that movie. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it, so maybe I’ll pull it out and watch it today, because for me, Napoleon Dynamite epitomizes the christmas feeling.

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