This past Friday was filled with Christmas preparatory activity. In the late morning, I made the short car ride to Zaino’s Nursery in Old Westbury, to purchase a Christmas Tree. Zaino’s is a family business and my children went to school with several of the Zainos. I was met in the yard by Anthony, who was in Karl’s class. As he helped me select a tree, we had a quick “catch up” conversation, during which he filled me in on what his siblings and cousins are up to. I was thrilled to hear that his cousin Lexi, a classmate and teammate (Field Hockey, Basketball and Lacrosse) of Diana’s (who I coached in PAL Lacrosse, when they were in 5th and 6th grade), is now teaching business at Clarke High School! This trip to Zainos has become a tradition. As I drove away, I began to feel the Christmas Spirit.
After getting the tree into the stand and then the house, I took care of some yard work and hung some new solar lights, out front. As I raked leaves, cut and bundled the last of the ornamental grass plants, I listened to Christmas Music for the first time this year – I had held off on it, so as to not be sick of it before Christmas. I love Christmas Music. Not only did it augment my growing Christmas Spirit, it made the yard work go by much quicker.
Friday Night, we all went over to 16 Horn Lane in Levittown for a Christmas Light Show Extravaganza – A Ralph Votta Production! An award winner last year, My Man is not resting on his Laurels! His display is crisp, clean and spectacular yet somehow understated. And get this – he doesn’t use any extension cords! He made the strings, himself, setting the bulbs precisely 10 inches apart! Impressive to say the least. But the best part about the evening was getting to see and catch up with the Vottas and their extended family (socially distanced, of course). There were at least 8 young people present, who I have coached in the past, it is always great to see any of them and get the latest on where they are and what they are doing. Before leaving, we happily agreed to set some plans for dinner after Christmas and before New Years Eve.
Early Saturday was spent hustling to get the Christmas Tree Decorations down from storage in the garage and into the house. I had the usual set backs and delays – lights not working, lost ornaments, non-cooperative artificial garland, but somehow finished up just in time for one of my favorite Christmas Time Traditions, of all. The Army – Navy Football Game! I know that neither team is among the best in College Football any longer, but the players are among the very best young people in our nation, and they play this game with everything they have. I have always loved watching this game and this year was no different. For the first time since 1943, it was played at West Point (due to Covid, of course) and not a neutral site. The fog that hung low over Michie Stadium, could not dampen the enthusiasm of the Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets, who were lucky enough to be present. I was joined by my good friend, Sean Irwin, who I have not seen since the summer and probably only once or twice since the pandemic began, in March. It was great, watching the game and catching up with Sean. In case you missed it (shame on you), it was an old fashioned, defense dominated, battle of field position and punting. I love that kind of football. Army prevailed 15 – 0, though it was not really decided before late in the fourth quarter.