Merry Christmas, 2008
To celebrate Christmas, I am sharing my Christmas Day columns, a tradition that started in 1996. Here is the 2008 version:
A Christmas story, 1964: Billy’s grandparents gave him a regulation basketball goal. Which is not the greatest toy for a kid two days shy of his second birthday. You don’t want 2-year-olds playing outdoor hoops.
So Billy’s father mounted the goal on the bathroom door in the 800-square-foot house in Okmulgee County.
Billy would dribble and shoot a rubber basketball at that goal, from his bedroom, since the house didn’t have a hall.
He was hooked. The houses would get bigger, the basketball settings grander, for Bill Self.
A Christmas story, 1970s: Barbara always was there for her boys. The quietest, nicest lady in the world.
When their father’s constant criticism and yelling would get to the boys, they would go to Barbara for comfort. She would soften the blows.
Barbara spoke little English but would sing Spanish lullabies. Years later, one of her sons said he couldn’t remember even one time Barbara getting angry at the boys, even though they deserved it a bunch.
She loved Christmas the most. It was her favorite day of the year. Barbara was restrained in her emotions, but the boys still recall a half-smile as they decorated the tree, and a full-blown beam as they awoke to the pile of toys on Christmas morning.
Before her sons ever made the major leagues, Barbara was dead, a victim of hepatitis and diabetes. Barbara never got to see a game of Ozzie or Jose Canseco.
A Christmas story, 1990s: He would get a new race car every year. One of those Indy cars, a little bigger than a match box, and he would start in.
Bang! He would ram one of the cars into the furniture. Wham! A collision with another car.
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