Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lambeau At Last!

I finally made the pilgrimage to Lambeau Field last Sunday. It was an early Christmas present from my brother John and what a gift. We rode south from the U.P and I couldn't believe the traffic that kept us company there and back.

But I have to back up a little to tell you about being a Packers fan. My dad grew up in Chicago where George Halas was King. He moved to the U.P shortly before Lombardi and the word dynasty became synonymous. By the time I became a Green Bay fan Lombardi was being followed by a succession of inadequate heirs to the throne.

I stuck with it and actually was rewarded along with other Green and Gold fan when the Packers won the Superbowl following the 1996 season. This team I saw Sunday only had two Packers remaining from that great team Brett Favre and William Henderson. Their playoff chances slim at best, but they were playing the Lions..a hated rival if you grew up in the U.P.

John told me I wouldn't believe how small the field looked when we first went in and then again how much bigger it would look when all the fans arrived. He was right on both accounts. We were mostly surrounded by Packer fans, with the exception of a few stray Detroit fans. One of them carried a "Fire Millen" sign. Another good one was held up by a balding fan that said, "The Last Time the Lions won in Wisconsin, I had hair."

One guy sitting behind us boldly stated "I'm drunk and loud and don't care who knows it." All righty then. However most fans were great, chanting "Go, Pack, Go," doing the wave and getting to their feet whenever Green Bay threatened to score, which wasn't much of the time.

Moments I'll treasure from my Lambeau trek. The sun coming around on us about game time as if my dad was smiling down knowing two of his five kids had made the trip he never could. Green Bay scoring the winning touchdown in the corner of the endzone we were sitting in and then sacking the Lions QB to put the game away. A little flicker of snow coming down as we were leaving the stands. Seeing Brett Favre break Dan Marino's record for most lifetime completions. Mostly being able to share the experience with my brother John.

Finally, Lambeau at Last!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Shopping

I'm not one of those who really likes shopping in crowds, but at Christmas time trying to shop during a lag time is impossible. Stores of course love that.

You have to have a little patience and exercise some restraint. I'm not that much of an impulse shopper, but at Christmas time I let my guard down a bit. Things I wouldn't dream of buying any other time of year are all of a sudden okay to put in my shopping cart.

We play "Secret Santa" in our family because the family has become so extended that it became a full time job, not to say expensive, to hit everyone on the list. That doesn't mean I'm still not doing a bit of shopping. I hit my "Secret Santa" person, my Mom, a sister with an early January birthday, a newphew with an early December birthday and buy a few group gifts. The last is usually wine and something to munch on.

I now compare notes when it comes to giving gifts with my brothers and sisters. One year I was going to buy an expensive mixer for my mother, which I did. Then I found out my brothers and sisters had already done that. Fortunately I was able to return the mixer and used the money for other gifts.

This year I bought my brother John a gift online. I've done that in the past, but usually prefer going to stores and keeping the money I spend in the community I make it in. That took care of one gift, but I've since bought a number more in the stores. I'd like to say my shopping is done, but never say never until Christmas Day has actually arrived.

I'll never forget my first Wisconsin Christmas. I'd taken a job with a radio station in Minocqua and had moved from my homestate of Michigan. I was literally down to my last few dollars with moving expenses. It would be the first Christmas I'd spent away from family. I'll never forget it because the entire family showed up on my doorstep that Christmas morning. What a huge gift to put their Christmas on hold and spend it with me. I made an excuse to get out of the house and went to a convenience store where I spent my last $10 on five gifts. There was no impulse buying, no real way to know what people wanted, but all that was given came from the heart.