Christmas and Baseball
The Christmas season used to have a wonderful pace to it, much like a baseball season does. Santa didn’t arrive until the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was followed shortly thereafter by the arrival of the first Christmas card. The Grinch That Stole Christmas was broadcast–once–and your entire Friday evening revolved around that single half hour. Somewhere along the line, you heard the first Christmas song on the radio, and in art class, you started cutting red and green construction paper into strips on which you used enough glue to hold together a battleship creating paper chains to place on the tree at home. There was a rhythm to the season that culminated in that first glimpse of gifts as you dashed down the stairs.
This was before the days when there was a mall on every corner and a Santa in every mall. This was before the days when radio stations decided that if one Christmas song was nice, then playing them non-stop, 24 hours a day beginning November 1st until your brain becomes a marshmallow world, must be “nicer” still. This was before the days when hustle and bustle was replaced by a wild rush that would make Enos Slaughter’s sprint for home in the 1946 World Series look like a languid home run trot.
The Christmas season used to provide the opportunity for reflection, be it religious reflection or on Life in general. Our current culture allows so little opportunity for reflection because, well, there’s a BARGAIN AT THE MALL! And if you don’t get to it NOW, you will have lost out, and the only way to console yourself will be to attend every single DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE!!!
I have come to believe that as we get older, our primary drive is to touch our childhood once again. If Christmas in the 21st century no longer provides that portal to the past, then at least baseball still does. Not even the suits that run the Major League game today can screw that up. Not even they can make the grass less green nor ruin the scent of a new glove nor soften the sound of the ball on the sweet spot.
I increasingly hear the refrain, “I’ll be glad when Christmas is over.” Who says that about the baseball season?
When our now 19 year old daughter was perhaps 10, she went through the standard phase of asking everyone about their “favorites.” She did not like my response concerning my favorite holiday, I suppose because “Opening Day” is not on any standard calendar. Opening Day, however, ushers in a season during which we are invited to reflect 162 different times as each game unfolds in its own way. A baseball and a baseball season still give us time to reflect on just how green that grass really is or how that 19 year old girl was 10 only about 3 innings ago. The beauty of baseball is that something will happen, something exciting or unexpected or something that harkens us back to a game witnessed long ago, and we too, are 10 again. I have never received a gift more powerful than the rejuvenating moments that seem to be inherent in every baseball game.
Merry Christmas, fellow Seamheads. Only 60 days until pitchers and catchers report.