My pleasant surprise every Christmas

Published 8:25 pm Friday, November 29, 2013

Over the years, I’ve been given an eclectic assortment of presents at Christmas, from Santa Claus, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
I’ve truly been blessed to have such an amazing family who makes Christmas such a special time. As a kid growing up, the magic of Christmas was so entrancing, as it is with most 5-12-year-olds.
How did Santa get all that stuff inside a skinny chimney? How do the elves make all those toys?
I never bothered investigating too far. The magic was real, and that was all I needed to know. But seriously, how did Santa know I needed a new football every year?
That is still one of my favorite Christmas memories as a boy growing into my teens.
Naturally, my football would get worn down and weathered from a year of use.
Sometimes I’d leave it in the yard, or kick it into the woods and forget about it. It had been passed, handed off and caught by at least 20 different pairs of hands throughout the year. Summertime saw it covered in dirt, grime and sweat.
During the fall, its dry, leather skin was cold and chapped our hands. The ball got beat up, punched and destroyed.
On Christmas morning, lo and behold, a brand new one would be sitting among all my Christmas loot.
I always loved smelling the fresh, leathery scent it let off. Its laces and letters were white and vibrant. I would always take it outside and stand in my freezing driveway in my pajamas, just to throw it as high in the air as I could and catch it on the way back down.
The cycle began again: pass, punt, kick for 365 days straight until a brand new football sat underneath the tree again.
Getting a football every year for Christmas wasn’t something I came to expect, though.
I never wrote it on a list or talked about how I needed a new one. But they were always there on Christmas mornings, and I was always pleasantly surprised.
Being a young boy and getting a fresh baseball, football or soccer ball is more magical than some of us may realize.
When in doubt, supply a kid with some fresh athletic gear for Christmas.
If you don’t, that’s okay, too. Santa knows, just like he did with me.

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