Christmas is winding down for most of us. The presents are unwrapped. The cats are batting around balls of colored paper and using empty boxes as de facto forts. Families are eating supper and maybe a few people are tuning in to see the G-League All-Star Tourna...uhhhh... the NBA’s slate of Christmas Day games.
Before we say goodbye to the holiday, though, let’s share some memories. Most people reading here are Portland Trail Blazers fans. (We’d certainly welcome others to participate, though, talking about their own teams and lives.) Many of us have been fans for years, which opens up a LOT of opportunities for Christmas gifts. As the holiday fades into evening, let’s share stories about the best Blazers-related presents we’ve ever gotten. They don’t have to be this year’s. Just about everybody has some kind of memory of opening a box and going, “Oh WOW! This is PERFECT!” Share yours as a Blazers fan so we can all enjoy!
I can start. A few years ago, I graduated from seminary and was ready to receive my first call as a real, live pastor person out in the world. Our denomination is kind of like the Army. They let you request where you’d like to go, then they send you wherever they want for your first call anyway.
I had come from the West Coast, so getting ready to exit pastor school, I said, “I don’t really care where you put me, as long as you send me West.” I was thinking Washington, California, maybe Idaho or Colorado. Apparently in my decidedly Midwestern-biased church, Western Iowa was as far to the left of the country as they could envision. Hey, at least it has the right direction in the name.
So off I trooped to a tiny town of 300 (welcome to your combine rides, City Boy) to work together with the people in a cute little church with a farmhouse parsonage beside. I was single at the time. A bunch of people invited me for Christmas, but I was feeling kind of sad and not much like being around company, so I just stayed to myself.
Well...not quite to myself. Upon graduating, I promised I would do two things: adopt a cat and get a dish so I could watch the Blazers. Within two months, I had done both. My dear little Princess Buttercup and I spent every evening together with her happily perched on my lap as I enjoyed basketball.
I didn’t decorate that Christmas. I just wanted to view it as a day off. I didn’t really need any reminders that I was alone on the holiday. But my family back West had other ideas. They mailed me some presents.
I must admit, I stared at those boxes for a long time. I wasn’t sure I wanted to open them. But I did take the step of getting them out of the cardboard on Christmas morning. I sat on the living room floor of this big house with no tree, no lights, and barely any furniture. There was just me and a mound of brightly-colored boxes.
Until, that is, Princess Buttercup came around the corner. It was her first Christmas in this house too. She ran up, looked at the boxes, and then looked at me. I said, “They’re Christmas gifts!” She hopped on top of one of them and began chewing on the ribbon. I told her not to, for fear she would swallow it. So she stopped, turned upside down on the present, and looked at me with goo-goo eyes. I said, “Go for it! Just don’t eat the string.”
I swear to you, this cat somehow seemed to understand English all of a sudden. She flipped over right side up again, spread her paws wide, crouched low on that present, and started ripping off the wrapping paper. She tore it in chunks and strips, having the best time of her life, until the box was pretty much unwrapped! I chuckled. So I pointed at the other presents and said, “Go ahead. You might as well!” She jumped on top and began ripping apart the other ones too until they were all free of paper, then she began to roll merrily through the scraps like they were her own personal mattress.
By this time I was laughing my head off, and somehow my Christmas spirit was restored. I decided to actually look at the presents themselves. One box was long and flat, but unmarked. I worked the lid loose, and inside was an absolutely gorgeous suede jacket: black trimmed with red at the cuffs and collar, with a huge Blazers logo embroidered on the back and the team name stitched onto the breast. It looked, and felt, like the most amazing coat I had ever seen. The connection to the team and home and my family was just what I needed.
After that, I wore that jacket everywhere. I continued to do so for years. I have it to this day, in fact! Even though it’s now worn and scuffed, suede looks even better that way. It’s still my go-to when the weather is cold.
Here it is, in 2021:
And that’s my Christmas Blazers Tale. Share your stories about your favorite Blazers-related gifts below!