The Trail Blazers might be struggling at the moment, but the Holiday season is upon us nonetheless. Today, we break from our normal coverage to take a look at our favorite Blazers-themed gifts from years past. From jerseys, tickets, hats, and lasting memories - members of our staff took a few moments to share their favorites.
Steve Dewald: Like most Portland-based fans, I have been lucky enough to form friendships based solely on a shared interest in the Blazers. A handful of years ago, I built a bond with a Bostonian bartender at my favorite pre-game watering hole.
After nearly a full season of learning the routine of his eccentric Seinfeld-character-like ordering process, he began to open up from his nonsense-free process long enough to engage in brief conversations with me. Through those interactions, I learned of his long-time love of the Celtics. Prior to Christmas that year, I left a pair of my tickets to Boston’s next visit to Portland as a replacement for my usual tip.
Fast forward a year, and he returned the favor. As I closed out my tab, he reached from behind the bar to hand me a pristine, autographed Joel Przybilla jersey.
Over the years, my pre-game rituals have shifted, and work locations have changed. But I still smile every time I look at that jersey.
Miles Custis: My favorite gift actually came this year. My mother-in-law got me 2 suite tickets for any Blazer home game this season. She won it at a charity silent auction this summer and gave it to me as a combined birthday and (early) Christmas gift. There were some restrictions (no Warriors or Lakers) from the company that donated it, but trying to decide what would be the best game to see was a lot of fun. I ended up picking a matchup with the Rockets on January 5, so I’ll be enjoying this gift shortly after Christmas!
Timmay!: Last year, I got a new Blazers hat. New logo and everything, and even better? It fit perfectly. It’s still my go-to hat a year later on rainy days.
Wait, that was my best Blazers Christmas gift? Sigh. I’m old.
Dave Deckard: Mine came a few Christmases ago, just after I was ordained as a shiny, new pastor-person and had moved to serve my very first church.
In our denomination, coming out of seminary is like going into the military. They ask you where you want to go in your first call, then they assign you wherever the heck they want you anyway. I had grown up in Oregon and had never been off the West Coast before I went to pastor school in St. Paul, Minnesota. I wanted to get back closer to home. When they asked my preferences, I said, “I don’t care as long as you send me somewhere west.” The church looked at that and went, “Derp! Derp! Derp! Western Iowa has ‘West’ in it. Good enough!” So to Western Iowa I went, to a little farming town of (count them) 300 people. (No, seriously, count them. You could.)
That wasn’t my first Christmas away from home, but it was my first Christmas alone. I had nobody there...no family, no classmates, no friends, nobody I knew except the people I worked with in church, and I hadn’t known them long.
As far as I know, there’s only one way to get through a totally-alone Christmas: pretend it’s not happening. It’s just another day, with the added bonus of getting off work! Yay!
That’s what I did. I bought no tree. I played no carols. I led Christmas Eve services, of course, but after that it was time to totally ignore everything and everyone.
Unfortunately, a couple conspirators were out to ruin my ignorant solitude.
Despite my protests, my family insisted upon mailing presents. Let me tell you, the only thing sadder than a carol-free, tree-free, people-free Christmas is a carol-free, tree-free, people-free Christmas spent sitting on a bare living room floor staring at gifts from people who aren’t there. Now you can’t avoid the holiday, or the fact that you’re opening presents in utter silence with nobody else around.
Or, well...almost nobody.
As it turned out, I had another co-conspirator in the house, a four-legged one.
When I moved into my own place at that first career stop, I swore I only wanted two things: a satellite dish to watch the Blazers on and a cat to keep me company. Within two months I had both.
My darling little Princess Buttercup—a normal-looking tabby to you, but a kindred spirit and cuddle-generator for me—was a constant companion. She was brilliant, had fur softer than a rabbit, and apparently had never experienced Christmas before, because she rounded the corner that morning to find me surrounded by presents and immediately went crazy. She ran up to the pile of gifts, looked at me like, “WOW! Do you SEE THIS??? How can you just SIT THERE?!?” and promptly began to rip the wrapping paper off my gifts like it was the happiest day ever. Her focus was so complete and her expression so joyful that I started laughing immediately. I grabbed her and hugged her tightly. She purred and butted her head against my chin, before exclaiming, “This is nice, Dad, but PRESENTS!!!” As I laughed and petted her, she proceeded to open every...single...one, including the cat toys that a nice auntie had sent her. She was in heaven.
The largest gift that day came from my whole family. It couldn’t have been more perfect for an Iowa winter: the nicest Blazers jacket I had ever seen (or have seen since). It was suede, warm, with immaculate logos and text. It’s pictured right below. Though wearing it constantly for years has put a patina on it, it remains a prized possession. It reminds me of that first Christmas and spending it with Princess Buttercup, which turned out to be plenty joyful and not so lonely after all.
My dear first kitty is gone now. She died after snuggling in my arms through a cold, November night. The Christmas that followed a month after was the first in years that I didn’t have to sleep right by the tree with one eye open, guarding the presents lest she unwrap them before anyone else in the house got a chance to. To the end of her life, December 25th remained her favorite day of the year. And I still smile when I remember that first Christmas together and wearing the jacket she helped me open.
Don’t forget, you can give a memorable gift this year by donating tickets to Blazer’s Edge Night. In March, we are aiming to send 2,000 children (plus their teachers, parents, and chaperones) to the game between the Nets and Blazers.
You can find all the details for the event by clicking here.