Hartley: The Xtreme Danger of Giving an Xbox for Xmas

Todd Hartley
I’m With Stupid
Hartley Todd

I find myself in sort of an interesting spot with this week’s column. You see, I’m writing this the day before Christmas, but it won’t be published until the day after Christmas. Thus, I’m going to have to predict how Christmas is going to go around my house this year rather than telling you how it went.

So here goes:

First, I predict my son’s head will explode when he sees one of his presents. Months ago, he decided he wanted an Xbox to play “Minecraft,” and somehow that morphed into him talking about the Xbox he was going to get. I was quick to remind him that he might not get an Xbox, but it turns out I was wrong.

Despite the questionable logic of giving a 7-year-old a video-game system, Santa is bringing my son an Xbox. This is troubling on many, many levels. First, there is the very real possibility that my son’s head will, indeed, explode. Medically, I’m not sure how this could work, but if it can, this will be the time it does.

More importantly though, my son is already a hopeless “Minecraft” junky. (If you don’t know what “Minecraft” is, you obviously don’t have a 7-year-old son.) He spends countless hours building entire worlds on my iPad, which is bad enough, but what’s even worse is that he’s discovered Stampy Cat’s videos and now watches them religiously.

If you don’t know who Stampy Cat is (and really, why would you?), he’s an English guy who posts videos of himself talking about and playing “Minecraft” on YouTube. To you and me, this might seem like the stupidest thing in the world, but to kids, it’s like visual crack, so much so that all of Stampy Cat’s incredibly annoying videos get millions of views.

The result of all this is that if, somehow, my son’s head doesn’t erupt between “Minecraft” and Stampy Cat, he will probably end up being sucked into our TV like the little girl in “Poltergeist.” The difference is that he won’t make any effort to get out. Even if that doesn’t happen, it’s almost a given that his butt will become fused to our living room floor and we will be unable to move him away from his wide-eyed position 4 inches from the TV screen.

The real trouble with my son getting an Xbox, however, is that my son’s father, who definitely doesn’t need more ways to waste time, will have to help his son get started setting up and playing games. I think we can all guess what that’s going to lead to. I can already see myself getting sucked into some pointless game for days on end. If you don’t hear from me for, oh, the next 16 months or so, please come steal my son’s Xbox and save me.

I’m going to assume I won’t become addicted to “Minecraft,” as I’ve so far resisted all my son’s efforts to get me to play it, but the Xbox comes with a game called “Assassin’s Creed” that has, according to one website, “hundreds of hours of content.” I can only pray that it’s boring or complicated enough that I won’t want to play it or won’t be able to figure out how it’s played.

Anyway, on to my other predictions. I predict that someone will give me a button-down shirt that I will wear once and then never wear again after the first washing shrinks the sleeves down to the point where they look ridiculous.

As you can probably tell, I’m basing this prediction on past experiences, having been through this many times before. I don’t know what kind of short-armed mutants shirt manufacturers make their wares for, but they seem incapable of getting the sleeve-to-shirt-size ratio even vaguely correct.

My final prediction, the one I feel the most certain about, is that my wife will be disappointed in the gifts she receives from her husband. You might wonder why, if I know this ahead of time, I don’t take steps to remedy the situation. The answer is because I’m afflicted with stupid. Plus, like an idiot, I forgot to ask her what she wants.

Actually, as it turns out, I have one more prediction. I predict that despite all the potential pitfalls inherent in this year’s Christmas gifts, my wife, son and I will all have a wonderful holiday season. I sincerely hope the same prediction holds true for you and your family.

Merry belated Christmas!

Todd Hartley has probably already destroyed the Xbox and his TV in frustration. To read more or leave a comment, please visit


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