Happy Holidays from the Sparkles and Sports staff! If your busy schedule will allow, we hope that you’ll find time this holiday season to enjoy the magic of the holidays. With our staff living all across the country and working in different areas of sport, we wanted to take a moment to share our various holiday plans with you. Additionally, we wanted to thank you for being a reader in 2018, and we’re excited for all that 2019 has to offer!
Katie: The 2018 holiday season is going to be a weird one for me, as it will be the first Christmas that I spend away from my family. With our first child due in early February, my husband and I decided that traveling home to Florida would be tough both physically and financially, so we’ve decided to spend the holidays in Michigan for the first time since moving here almost three and a half years ago. I am hopeful that prepping our nursery and preparing for our baby will mostly take our minds off being away from family, but I’m sure that there will be moments of sadness at not being home. To combat this, we’ve already started to discuss what our new family traditions will be around the holidays! We have also done some Christmas decorating for the first time and are planning what we will have for our first Christmas dinner as just the two (and a half) of us. My sports are not in season during this time so hopefully I can also find time to relax and recharge before baby comes!
Liv: One of the big reasons I left North Carolina to move to Syracuse was the ability to be around family more. Last year, I wrote a post (Home for the Holidays) on how it was important to me that I am always home for Christmas with my mom; that it is important for me to be with her on Christmas - the anniversary of my father’s death - since she was there for me every year as I grew up. This year, I will be in Florida with my team from Dec. 19-23. One of the perks of working basketball is usually a trip to a warm-weather climate for a holiday tournament just before the holidays. We return to Syracuse late on the 23rd. And I mean really late… midnight kind of late. Since my mom’s house is a five-ish hour drive, I will wake up early on Christmas Eve and head home. Christmas Eve will be spent with my dad’s side of the family where we will have our traditional Italian Christmas Eve complete with seven different fish. On Christmas Day, my mom, sister and I will exchange gifts and then head to the cemetery to visit my dad’s grave. After that we will go to my uncle’s for Christmas dinner where we will drink lots of wine, tell stories and eat way too much food. Sometimes on Christmas night my cousins and I get together and hit one of the local bars where we spend all the Christmas money our Grandma gave us. We’ll see who is up for it this year! I’m fortunate enough to be home until the 28th/29th this year and will head back to Syracuse to help with men’s basketball while most of our staff is down in Orlando for our bowl game. It sounds cliche, but there really is no other way I would rather spend my few days off in the middle of hoops season.
Kristina: This year, I’ll be spending the holidays exactly where I want to be - with my family. The last couple of years took me across the country to work New Year’s Six Bowl Games, and while I can’t really complain about those experiences, it will be a nice change in pace to not be attached to my phone and laptop this year. Aside from just getting to chill out with my family and friends back home in Pittsburgh, I’m particularly looking forward to Christmas Eve. My mom started a tradition where we cook all kinds of fun appetizers and share them after Christmas Eve mass. Even though she’s not here to inspire us with her creative recipes, we continue the tradition in her honor. It’s also one of the few times a year that my dad drinks hard liquor, and there are fewer things I enjoy more than seeing my 64-year-old dad tipsy on Christmas Eve.
Danielle: This holiday season will be celebrated in the same way every Christmas has been for me-in the home I grew up in with my parents. It’s special and brings back all the memories of Christmas past. We have fun traditions including watching Christmas Vacation more times than you can count (and reciting every line along the way), eating pizza for dinner on Christmas Eve (a tradition that no one really knows when it started), and Santa always brings Krispy Kreme doughnuts Christmas morning. I’m old-fashioned and all about traditions, so being home for the holidays is special and treasured. My work schedule fell together perfectly to be able to spend a week home with mom and dad before coming back for home basketball. I’m looking forward to unplugging a bit, relaxing, and getting re-energized to start the new year.
Anastasia: I’ll be spending this holiday season the same way I spend most of my time... traveling! I am in a long distance marriage and last year due to his military commitments we couldn’t spend the entire holiday together with both our families but this year we are making the rounds! I’ll meet my husband in Chicago and then we will travel to Wisconsin and Texas. I know what you’re thinking - wow, expensive! And you’re right. But we don’t know where our future will take us so we want to visit our families while we still can. Right now we don’t have any kids and really don’t have a home base so it makes sense for us to set aside money to travel for Christmas. Plus, we celebrated our first married holiday, Thanksgiving, together just the two of us to save for Christmas travel. One of my favorite things about working in baseball is so much time off for the holidays.
Bridgette: Ah, the holiday pretzel season! I’ve asked how the recipe and year-after-year must have sweet treat became a part of my family’s tradition. No surprise, it was just to get my older brother and I to work together and away from the video games when we were little. Holiday Pretzels are super easy for the non-bakers and little kids to do safely, you just need a microwave to heat the almond bark. Dip the pretzels in the heated almond bark and lay them out to harden on parchment paper and add sprinkles. You must not forget the sprinkles. With the rush of the holiday season, and directly intersecting with crossover season, I often do not have a lot of time to get friends and family gifts that I can’t order off the internet. What do you get your favorite people that are spread out across the country? A tin packed full of Holiday Pretzels. It’s the best sweet and salty treat, eating just one is remarkable and when you get a tin, sharing is questionable.
Candace: I’ve always spent the holiday season around my family and this year will be no different. Well, actually every year is a little different. This year, I’m looking forward to baking Christmas cookies with my sister. She and I used to have a tradition of waking up at 6am on Christmas and waiting for our parents to wake up so we can open our presents. As we have gotten older, we just try to aim for 9 a.m. We don’t have the same exact breakfast every year -- sometimes croissants, other times pancakes and eggs. Dinner has changed too, especially when I made the decision to go pescatarian. There was even one Christmas when we went to Florida to visit some of our extended family. As my sister and I start to find our way in the world, I know things might change drastically for us soon around the holidays. I’m just cherishing the fact that this year will not be one of them.