What is the cost of playing video games at a near addiction level? For some its grades, for others its healthy relationships, but for myself it was alot more. In an about face way, my playing of a certain game lead to my sister being whisked away to Northern Ireland. Years ago, myself and my circle of friends played a game called Soldier of Fortune 2, basically day and night. We played so much we could close our eyes and still see endless hallways filled with carnage. Oddly, our circle of Grand Forks based players represented some of the top 50 players in the world. To my surprise my beloved little sister took a liking to the game and was also exceedingly efficient at it. Some say she was even better than me, and by some I mean her. Her constant ascension through the ranks lead to meeting meeting a young man named Bill from Belfast. After over a year of communication, the two took a liking to one another and the lad saved his pennies to come and visit my sister in Canada. An admirable gesture for sure, but certainly not enough to convince a protective older brother that he's anything short of Osama Bin Manson. Initial plans in the event of him not measuring up included calling the customs authorities with "intel regarding a young Irish Republican Army member." Other plans are too incriminating to post here, and I may need them later in case he leaves her at the alter or something should that scenario arise. His visit to the country was closely monitored by family and friends and lead to the two confirming their like for one another. And somehow the young man won each and every one over which isn't surprising due to his character, but my family's. These aren't an easy bunch to win over! At the top of that list would be myself, but he even passed all of my subtle and not so subtle tests in the limited time I got to spend with him. The night before they left for Northern Ireland he and I were able to chat for most of the night and I really saw what my sister was on about. It is this comfort level that has enabled me to relax and know she is in good company without me having to stalk the streets of Belfast like Jason Bourne. Okay, I admit I just want to do that regardless. After more than a year of him experiencing our culture, the two set off for Northern Ireland to meet the other family. The pair remain there today with plans to come back to the land of maple syrup in the spring. Regardless, with the holidays upon us I find myself spending the second consecutive Christmas somewhat seperated from my family due to my proximity. While the parents are quite reachable I find myself frustrated by the fact I cannot pass along holiday greetings in person to my little sister has me a little bummed out. So it would be nice if they would make it back in time for my birthday in March. Apparently subtlety was not in my gifts this year....Kate...Bill. That's March 2010, I expect gifts from Belfast.