The combination of the holidays and perusing my original AD&D books sends me back to Christmas, 1981. The previous summer, I had become enamored of playing AD&D with friends, and was playing every week. I was deeply obsessed, which I suspect many of you would identify with, even though I didn't even have a Player's Handbook.
That Christmas, I had a stack of goodies under the tree: the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Monster Manual, the Fiend Folio, Deities and Demigods, boxes of official minis from Grenadier, a set of dice, and a set of D&D character sheets-- easily over 100 dollars worth of merchandise which, I realize in retrospect, was a huge cost to my mother. Probably more than we could really afford, actually.
I still have the books and most of the die and even had the figures up till a few years ago, and played using that rule set up through college before moving on to other things. My mother never understood my roleplaying hobby, but she saw it as a passion, and she nurtured it when she saw a spark of something good in what I was doing. She even used it to motivate me to excel in school, to write, to create art, and to keep growing as a person.
She was a clever woman, my mother. This January will be nine years since she passed away, but some days it seems like it was just yesterday that I was opening the packages my mother left for me as if I had found the greatest treasure of my life.