Friday, December 24, 2010

An Early Gift From Santa Claus

I’m spending my first Christmas with Lindsey’s family this year, and so far it’s been fantastic. We got massages, took a limo tour of the Christmas lights, and ate Hibachi steak. But tonight was the part I was a little nervous about: Her parents' annual Christmas Eve dinner party: Over twenty-five guests -- most of whom Lindsey and Kristen didn’t even know.

However, I did know something they didn't: There was a football game on tonight: The Hawaii Bowl. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs.... The Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

And where did I happen to be? That’s right: Tulsa.

Clearly, there is a Santa Claus.

I woke up early (we’d done a lot of napping with their three dachshunds in the previous day and a half -- I couldn’t sleep any more if I tried) and grabbed the sports section of the Tulsa World. Sure enough, there were game previews, subplots, side stories, and position-by-position breakdowns of the matchup. I made sure to discuss all of it with Lindsey’s father and grandfather, who hardly needed much prodding: They were fired up, too. In the midst of all the excitement, I slipped in the only question that mattered, and braced myself for a 'No': “Soooo, we can have the game on tonight with no sound, right?”

“Of course!”

When the people started coming, it was almost like the joke was on me. Everybody loved having the game on. And once Tulsa started winning? (The Golden Hurricane was supposed to lose by double-digits) Fuhgeddaboudit. 

I should’ve known. What Tulsan doesn’t love seeing their hometown team leave the mainland and kick some Rainbow Warrior tail on national television? There were even a few TU grads in attendance who walked in, saw the game on, and thought they won the Oklahoma Mega Millions. By the third quarter, I had twenty people watching.

Lindsey’s Dad (to his friend): “Our defense has been playing better lately.”
Friend: “The secondary’s been the problem, but look at them tonight. Five interceptions!”
Friend’s daughter: “See #41? That’s my friend’s older brother. He’s playing really well at linebacker."
Lindsey’s Grandma: "I don’t like watching sports. Too much spitting."

It was perfect: A room full of wonderful, proud people thrilled to spend Christmas Eve with family, friends, and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. They just needed someone to turn on the television.

Toward the end of the game, Kristen looked around at all the people watching. One family had stayed a half-hour later than everyone else just to finish watching the game and see the players celebrate. She turned to me and said, “You know none of this would have happened if you weren’t here.” She paused to think about all the schmoozing she would’ve normally had to do, and smiled.

“Thank you.”

Weekend Picks

Cowboys (-7.5) @ Cardinals (Sat, 6:30 Central Time). Dallas plays well on holidays. Look it up. Actually, don't, because I made it up.

Rams (-2.5) vs. 49ers (Sun, 1:00 ET). Key divisional battle in the division no one wants to win. I trust St. Louis waaaay more.

Falcons (-2.5) vs. Saints (Mon, 8:00 ET). Don't go against Atlanta and Matt Ryan at home, even against the defending champs.

Last Week (actually two weeks ago, had no internet access in Uruguay last week): 2-1
Season: 39-40-3