My Christmas story

Every year as Christmas approaches, my face beams such a holiday glow that passersby must don sunglasses or else risk serious retina damage. But, alas, not this year. My face is whiter than the snow at the North Pole. Whiter than Santa’s beard.When you’re wearing your anguish on your face, the color quickly drains and gushes bile into your soul. No wonder there are emerging furrows in my brow. No wonder there is a glum gravitas riding posse with my voice when I sing Christmas carols in the shower.All because my tormented soul is grappling with Christmas and football.Those NFL execs are a huddle of lint-brains. Those morons have games on Christmas Eve and Christmas. And just when did Scrooge become the NFL commissioner?Now I’m caught in a horrific squeeze between family and football, with both sides sniping at me.My mother always throws a lavish Christmas Eve party. Attendance is mandatory. If you don’t show up, you don’t show up in the will. And the festivities kick off with Christmas Eve Mass at 4 p.m.Four freakin’ PM! What’s with up with that? All the 1 o’clock NFL games won’t yet be over, and there is a 4:05 and two 4:15 games on the clock. Why doesn’t the church have a big-screen plasma TV so people can listen to the sermon while watching football? Multi-tasking, after all, can be a gift from God.And then there is Christmas, the most beautiful and luminescent day of the year.We spend Christmas at my brother-in-law’s. A wonderful guy. A football fan. My sister-in-law is a doll and a marvelous cook. Her Christmas dinners are scrumptious. But she fails to appreciate that violence and grace are blended into one tasty concoction called football. So her Christmas dinner kicks off at 5 p.m. Five freakin’ PM!What’s up with that? The Eagles vs. the Cowboys for all the marbles in the NFC East kicks off at 5 p.m. Armageddon between T.O. and Jeff Garcia. And me, the peerless pigskin prognosticator known as Zeke, will not see the game live because their dining room has no TV sight lines.But if I blow off Christmas dinner, my wife will be spitting out the marrow of my bones.My brother-in-law, however, has come up with a Solomon-like solution. He will TiVo the game and we’ll sprint to the family room big-screen TV the moment the last morsel of dessert has been consumed.Of course, it might be a slow sprint with our full bellies. And then we’ll fast-forward through all the commercials and catch all the action better late than never.The things we do for family.