There are very few things that can compare to the feelings you have on Christmas morning. There is something magical about coming down the stairs and seeing the Christmas tree sparkling in the early morning hours. Beneath its branches are the wrapped gifts awaiting to be opened and enjoyed.
The children and the children at heart are bouncing from present to present seeking one with their name on the top and wondering what the wrapped gift contains. While there may be some gifts that disappoint, the majority of the gifts are sincerely selected or thought provoking.
Now that I am old enough to have my own children, Christmas morning leads to reminiscing about Christmas’ past. I sat in the chair as my kids bounced around looking for their gifts. I began contemplating, “what was the greatest Christmas gift I ever received?”
This was not an easily answered question. Through the years Christmas has been very good to me and to my family. There have been lean years where we wondered whether there would even be a Christmas and there have been years of abundance when family members were overwhelmed with gifts.
For me though the answer would have to be the unexpected gift I received last Christmas. Due to economic challenges we faced in 2008 we found ourselves struggling. We had two daughters leaving for college and two more children needing medical and dental services.
As a loyal Arizona Diamondbacks fan; I had renewed my season tickets for the 2009 season. With Christmas coming, it became evident that I would have to relinquish my Diamondbacks tickets in order to care for our children.
It was one of the most difficult decisions I would have to make. For weeks my wife Trina and I would pour over our budget to try and find something we had overlooked that would allow me to keep my tickets. In the end there was nothing we could do.
With a very heavy heart I wrote to Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall to break the news that we would have to forego our tickets to the upcoming season. I felt as though I was letting the team down and the lump in my stomach grew larger and larger each day.
Clearly I was making the right decision; I could not keep my tickets while my children were in need. No matter how I tried to justify it, it would not be right. For the first time in my life I was not looking forward to Christmas.
On Christmas Eve I received an email from Mr. Hall. The Diamondbacks offices were closed for the holidays but he still took time away from his family to write back. His email was heartfelt and I was very grateful for his understanding of our situation.
I replied and thanked him and assured him that I would somehow find a way to at least attend a couple of games to cheer on the team. Shortly after this email exchange I received another email from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This second email was the greatest Christmas gift I ever received. The message described the Diamondbacks Scholarship program and how it was designed to assist families receives Diamondbacks tickets they could otherwise not afford.
The message went on to explain that our names had been submitted to the program and after careful consideration we were granted a scholarship. The Arizona Diamondbacks would renew our season tickets, picking up the tab.
I am not usually an emotional person but this email struck a chord with me. As I read the email to Trina both of us broke down. The caring and compassion of this baseball team had a profound impression on our family.
As 2009 unfolded, we were once again among the fans at Chase Field rooting for the Arizona Diamondbacks. For our family though it was more than that. As we walked through the turnstiles of each game we made an effort to thank each and every Diamondbacks employee we came in contact with.
Through their generosity and compassion our family enjoyed the greatest Christmas gift I will ever receive. So this morning as we opened gifts my thoughts returned to a year ago and the feelings I had for the holidays.