Saturday, December 22, 2007

First Capitol News Sports - Mike McMurran Sports Editor

Christmas tradition, I think it is one of the most wonderful experiences in the McMurran household. Some of our Christmas traditions have been passed down from Lynn’s family, some are traditions we started on our own. Together they make for a very exciting time.

Without going into great detail, my family doesn’t gather at Christmas, but Lynn’s certainly does. Like everything else in life, things have a strange way of balancing. My family doesn’t get together, her family over does it. As is usually the case, my kids have the best of both worlds.

Being in education allows me to have two weeks off with Maggie, Joe and Dee – two wonderful weeks. Lynn almost always manages at least one week off, so as a family we have quite the time.

Years before Lynn and I were married, I used to buy her parents season tickets to the Muny as a Christmas gift. Don’t ask me why, but every Christmas Eve I would drive down to the Muny and pay for the tickets. The older I get, the more convinced I am that I am touched with a degree of obsessive compulsive behavior. I think the year was 1990 and I had just finished teaching a unit on drama. One of the plays we studied was Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie. The play focuses around a dysfunctional family (see earlier family comments) from St. Louis. At one point in the play he makes reference to the Jewell Box in Forest Park; talks about the beauty both inside and out. So in 1990, after purchasing the season tickets to the Muny, I decided to visit the Jewell Box. As I walked down the sidewalk I couldn’t help but look at the mature trees and wonder what size they were when Williams viewed them – I sometimes think the strangest things. One year after Maggie was born, Lynn and Maggie took the trip with me, and we’ve been doing it as a family ever since. Easily the most exciting year was about four years ago, when it began snowing as we entered the Jewell Box. By the time we exited there was at least 2 inches of snow on the ground; by the time we returned home it was more like 4 or 5 inches. Lynn’s niece was in from Texas that year and her daughter experienced snow for the first time in her life.

After the Jewell Box we trek over to the zoo and visit the animals. Maggie says we do it because, “The animals don’t smell nearly as bad as they do in the summer heat.” Every Christmas Eve, be it 60 degrees or 10 degrees, and we’ve experienced both, Family McMurran spends an hour or so at the Zoo. My personal favorite animal is the bears – they are far more active when it’s cold.

After that it’s on to Lynn’s mom’s house, for Christmas Eve dinner and distribution of presents – it’s an event worth the admission. Any where from 30 – 50 people, depending upon who is in town, in a 900 square foot condo – per bedlam. I would never let Lynn know this, but personally it’s the highlight of the Christmas season. My children share the time with their aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s a tradition that started long before my wife was born and will continue for generations to come. It really is special.

On a related note, the same group of people gather the very next evening, Christmas evening, at Lynn’ sisters’ house, that I never did understand. “You just saw everyone the night before,” is usually how the conversation goes, “What could you possibly have to say?” Like most all of Lynn’s family gatherings, we take two cars. Lynn, God bless her, likes to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Not me. My kids can never get enough of their cousins, so they, like their mom, stay until the very end.

I may have shared some of this with you on previous Christmases. But stay tuned, because I guarantee, what I’m about to share, I’ve never shared with anyone.

I would like to wish a very special Christmas greeting to Lynn’s entire collective family – all however many of them there are. Lynn has 4 sisters and 1 living brother – all of whom have children. That means there are brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mothers-in-law, cousins, aunts, and uncles – and probably most importantly, grandmothers – which to me would be mother-in-law.

I guess what I’m saying is, “thank you” to Lynn’s family – to each and every member of Lynn’s family. As much as most of you find me abrasive, and I know I can be, I have an unconditional love for each and every one of you. It may not always be obvious, but you have to remember I was raised far, far differently than y’all were. I guess the biggest compliment I can give them is this: I am doing my best to raise my children in the same loving environment that each of you were raised. Bud, Lynn’s dad, who died 5 months before Maggie was born, is my role model as a father. I guess what I’m saying is, I want my children to grow up and be like Lynn’s family. Don’t think I don’t know if it were not for Lynn’s family, I wouldn’t have a family at all.

Merry Christmas, may all your dreams for 2008 be realized.