One thing that has become a tradition with my track club (for over twenty years) and now my university team, is the annual Christmas party.
Every year around this time we get together at our house for a potluck supper and other festivities, including the showing of race videos, a slide show put to music, annual awards presentations, and finally, a cutthroat Kris Kringle.
So, last night we held my university team’s Christmas party. As always, it was an informal affair. My wife, Terry, dresses like a Xmas elf. She loves the job, which includes hosting the Cutthroat Kris Kringle. There are many rules for Kris Kringles, but the way we operate it , everybody brings a wrapped gift costing less than ten dollars, then writes their name on a slip of paper and puts it into a container. The Christmas elf selects the first name – that person chooses a gift from under the tree, then selects the next name. Each subsequent person has the option of either selecting from under the tree, or stealing a gift from someone who has already selected. It’s a lot of fun, especially when athletes, who tend to be rather competitive, start to steal from each other. However, everyone realizes it’s all in good fun and the hooting and hollering keep it that way. By the way, some items get re-gifted and return year after year. With us, it’s a furry jock-strap and a rubber snake – they’ve become part of the Christmas party tradition.
The video and slide show have become easier to produce as technology has improved. I usually bring a camera and camcorder to all our competitions, and assign an athlete or parents to be the camera person for the day. By the end of the year, I end up with a great visual history of the season. At the party, I just run the videos off the camcorder, but with the photos, I produce a slideshow with a soundtrack. Technology has made this easy – I use a Macintosh, and programs like iPhoto and Expressions (my favorite), make it a snap to organize the digital photos and produce a professional-looking slideshow. The soundtrack just comes from mp3’s already on my computer.
I call the awards the “Annual Turtle Awards,” because the actual award is a Turtle candy that I toss at them (I call it the Slowpoke Awards for my university crew, because we hand out Slowpokes). The awards are tongue-in-cheek and are based on some of the funny occurrences throughout the year. For example this year’s awards included “The Worst Sense of Direction Award,” the “Kamikaze Start Award,” and the “Just Shoot Me” award.
As for the “Quotes of the Year” award, throughout the year, I do my best to immediately write down the funniest comments before I forget them. I end up with a collection of these quotes on the back of file folders, napkins and slips of paper. It’s a hoot to recite the quotes during the party, and once I compile them on the computer, they become a permanent reminder of the fun we’ve had and all the crazy characters I’ve coached over the years. Some of this year’s quotes included “I used to be obsessed with Mr. Bean. I used to pretend I WAS Mr. Bean (strange coming from a female runner), “I feel sorry for whoever dates me,” and “Is that a mitochondria in your shorts, or are you just happy to see me.” The winner was, “We’ll give you chocolate…and ice cream…and BEER, if you stop at the mall on the way home!” (I did…but they didn’t).
A Christmas part takes some preparation but it’s a lot of fun. It becomes a gathering point for athletes and alumni every year, and it’s one of the things that makes Christmas feel like Christmas for Terry and I.
Dick Moss, Editor,