There are plenty holiday videos from women's basketball teams around the web and to be honest it was difficult to find anything better than Cal's 2009 rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, primarily because all five participants were actively engaged in the song as though they wanted to do it instead of merely following some ambitious SID's instructions.
But obviously, the holiday season can be about more than Christmas alone and I thought a video posted by Ball State women's basketball "in the spirit of giving this holiday season" captured that better than almost anything else.
The video reminded me of an article by Jessica Lantz (aka Freelantz) about the Oklahoma City University women's soccer team's trip to a retirement home during the NAIA tournament. A relevant excerpt.
OCU women learn "the lessons that can’t be bought or even taught" | freelantz sports media
"Spending time in the retirement home had a bigger impact on me than I ever imagined," McMahon said. "It showed me to live life to the fullest, which was a good lesson to learn during nationals.
"It also taught me to always remember what really matters in life – the lessons that can’t be bought with money or even taught. In order to learn lessons like these, you have to actually go through the humbling experiences. I will never forget that day and can’t wait to go back someday."
I suppose what struck me about the Ball State piece is that it isn't just a one-time event or one-way charity, but an extended and somewhat reciprocal interaction grounded in the development of relationships. It's hard to quantify that in any reasonable way, but it's hard to deny that it's probably the height of what we might imagine a "Christmas spirit" to be. Obviously, a lot of teams do this sort of thing so singling them out is not to diminish what other teams have done, but sometimes it's nice to have concrete examples of abstract ideas.
What Christmas is as we Grow Older by Charles Dickens @ Classic Reader
Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit, which is the spirit of active usefulness, perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty, kindness and forbearance! It is in the last virtues especially, that we are, or should be, strengthened by the unaccomplished visions of our youth; for, who shall say that they are not our teachers to deal gently even with the impalpable nothings of the earth!
Therefore, as we grow older, let us be more thankful that the circle of our Christmas associations and of the lessons that they bring, expands! Let us welcome every one of them, and summon them to take their places by the Christmas hearth.
At its best, the "Christmas spirit" is essentially about those latter virtues, even if we're inundated with messages that obscure that, exclude people, or convince us that the worth of the moment comes with a price tag...or if we spend the entire day staring at a screen watching NBA games, eagerly awaiting the finale between the valiant Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers tonight.
And with that I leave you with some additionally profound and heartfelt words from those Warriors, who have rightfully honored their long-suffering fans as the best in the NBA.
I was particularly moved by guard Monta Ellis, who did an outstanding job of looking as happy as a kid on Christmas morning.
Here's hoping they grant Warriors fans a win tonight.