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My very favorite Christmas gift ever

POSTED: December 25, 2013 12:00 p.m.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever was the year I got a toy lightsaber and a bathrobe.

First, let’s keep in mind that I was seven years old at the time. At seven, you know you would have wanted the same thing.

But that was the coolest Christmas present combination ever for me, and you know why? Partially because I’m a bit of a nerd, but also because it made me feel like a Jedi knight. For the next few days, I would not take off my robe and I would not put down my lightsaber.

Just try picturing me with a red robe and a lightsaber.

That was fun, wasn't it?

Those gifts, though, were not the best part about that Christmas. The best part about that Christmas was how I got to hop in the car with my dad and ride around Dacula for who knows what reason. I really don’t remember why we did that, but it was probably just to get out of the house for a few minutes.

And yes, I did so wearing my red robe and carrying my green lightsaber. Give me some credit, I’m no Sith.

While I distinctly remember two parts of that Christmas, with one being the coolest pair of gifts ever, my most fondly remembered part of that Christmas was not the gift. My most fondly remembered part of that Christmas was the time I spent in a car with my dad.

I wasn’t just a blissfully be-sabered nerd when I was a child, though. I also played some sports. I played little league tee-ball and basketball. I played baseball all the way up through the "major" leagues at my church, which was a very confusing system of organization to me why they called them major leagues. Last I checked, Chipper Jones was not playing on the team with me.

I even participated in high school track where I threw discus. I wasn’t particularly good, but I did it, so please do not spend too much time focusing on my lightsaber story when you can focus on my sporting achievements. It’s not that I am at all ashamed of that Christmas, but it would seem odd if the sports editor spent an entire column talking about a lightsaber and never mentioning sports.

So back to the sports.

In my first year playing tee-ball, my dad was an assistant coach for the team, which was fun for me and everyone else getting to play. He would do that again a few years later, limiting his usually busy travelling just so he could spend a few nights a week coaching me and a bunch of rowdy boys who didn’t know a lick about baseball.

While I was never any good at baseball, or at least not good enough to play beyond recreational leagues, my family felt that it was important to support me and be at my events. They were there for both of my sisters, too.

They were there when my oldest sister was walked onto the court for her senior night in basketball. She was a much better basketball player than me, obviously, as she actually saw playing time on a varsity team, although we joked that her position was lead benchwarmer.

My parents were in attendance the day my middle sister nearly decapitated a girl in discus. Although my sister felt really bad about it and expressed her emotions accordingly, that other girl should have really been paying better attention.

Mom and Dad made sure to be at as many of our little league and high school sporting events as they could. My parents still support the three of us as far as they can, and they’re probably reading this column right now, too (hi!).

This year, I get to celebrate my first ever Christmas with my wife, and I am rather excited about that. Sure, it will be strange not waking up at my parents’ house, but this is a new chapter of my life and a new family experience that I am rather excited about.

The thing is, Christmas is about family. The holidays are all about family and spending time with family.

Also, the more eagle-eyed among you may know that both my wife and my dad have taken pictures for the paper, making even this sports section a family event.

One of the reasons I organized today’s sports section the way I did was because I wanted to get across the idea that sports, like Christmas and the whole holiday season, are best when they involve family.

Even if you may not always have time or the opportunity to be involved with your family when it comes to sports, take the time this Christmas to be with your family. Surely, you’ll have the chance to play with your kids or grandkis, parents and grandparents, so take those chances while you can.

If you parents give your kids some kind of sports equipment for Christmas, use the day together to play with that equipment. Throw the football or the Frisbee. Play catch with the baseball or the Nerf gun. Yes, you can play catch with a Nerf gun, and it is surprisingly fun.

Just don’t try to play catch with the paintball gun. That one is decidedly less fun.

Parents, maybe you’ll be giving your kids an X-Box One or some other new gaming system. First, feel free to send it my way if they misbehave. Second, even if you know nothing about video games, sit down and play with your kids. They will love it.

I have a lot of great memories of Christmas and sports seasons. I have enjoyed some really exciting times during the holidays over my lifetime, and there is one common thread that ties almost all of those memories and events together: family.

Your kids may not like the toys you give them or they may love them. They might play with them for a few minutes or it might become their favorite Christmas gift ever. Either way, there is one sure fire way to make this Christmas a special memory with your family, and that is to spend it with them.

I will always be proud of my green lightsaber and my red bathrobe, which obviously no longer fits, but I will forever be even more proud to call my family mine. Those memories, unlike that honestly pretty itchy bathrobe, I will never outgrow.

Oh. And that green lightsaber. You'd better believe that I'm not ever outgrowing it, either. I still have it.

And yes, I might still be a nerd, even as your sports editor. Imagine that.

Merry Christmas, everyone. God bless you and your family this Christmas.



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