“Oh Come, All Shea Faithful”
I’ve not always been the baseball fanatic I am now.
For many years of my life, I would’ve named fall my favorite season of the year. I loved the beautiful colors of the changing leaves, the comfort of favorite sweaters brought out of storage, and, naturally, the first week of November that every year brings my birthday.
Although, like any other school-aged kid, I loved the cessation of the academic regimen, I never found summer to be a favorite time of year. Although many in northeastern Oklahoma–where I grew up–enjoy outdoor recreation afforded by the many local lakes and rivers, e.g., water-skiing, boating, fishing, our family was never the “back-to-nature” type. And, although our town had a decent-sized public swimming pool, I wouldn’t say I was a regular.
Perhaps my fair skin and susceptibility to sunburn discouraged me. Or my self-consciousness about my appearance in a bathing suit.
Add the fact that Oklahoma summers are brutally sticky, and I’ve now assembled a laundry list of possible explanations for why I rarely waxed nostalgic for the “good ol’ summertime”.
Becoming immersed in baseball changed all of that.
Except for the possibility of the post-season involving my team, I now dread the arrival of fall–it now representing to me saying farewell to baseball as well as to my summer home, i.e., Shea Stadium for the past four years; soon-to-be Citi Field.
(Full disclosure: I’d be less than honest if I attributed the apprehension that accompanies September’s arrival exclusively to the end of the baseball season. Once the opera season ends in May, I typically have the entire summer off from work until rehearsals begin again in September. So September also signals the resumption of my work routine.)
Just recently, I became aware of another subtle way in which my fandom has somewhat altered the significance of something else of a seasonal nature.
Growing up, Christmas in my family was done to the hilt: cards, decorating, gift-giving, baking, caroling…the works. The tradition of spending a lot of time and thought in anticipation of the holiday for the greater part of December has continued with my own family.
As a child and as an adult, I have often been saddened by the annual ritual of removing the tree decorations and packing everything away. The thought that another 365 days would elapse before the next Christmas would come around was a sobering one.
Maybe that’s why my bounding out of bed on New Year’s Day, ready, willing and able to begin the Christmas dismantling process came as a bit of a surprise to my husband–and when I thought about it, to me as well.
Just like every Christmas that I can remember, this one was a memorable one: filled with good food, fun times, and gifts to treasure.
My agitation about getting the tree down was not due to the tree’s needles beginning to fall off or the tree itself becoming a fire hazard: largely due to our family’s allergies, we have an artificial tree.
Nor was the urgency to return our home to normalcy due to having had the decorations up for longer than I’d like. With Thanksgiving coming as late as it did in November, there had been one fewer weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas than usual. That had actually resulted in our putting up the tree and decorations a bit later than usual, if anything.
No, I reasoned to myself, this mania was coming from my anticipation–even with snow on the ground–of BASEBALL!
Having Christmas over and beginning the New Year meant we were that much closer to “pitchers and catchers” reporting!
Oh. And not having to hear “Blue Christmas” for at least ten months.