It’s that time of the year again. Yes, my favorite time of the year…Christmas! I realize it’s not the most original “favorite holiday” to have, but it is mine regardless. And interestingly enough, it seems to become more meaningful the older I get. It’s probably the same reason why I miss my family more and more each year, even though I’ve lived away from home since high school. When I first moved to California for university, it was an adventure that I welcomed with open arms. Yes, I was leaving behind my family and childhood friends, and everything I knew, but hey, I was going to CALI! So I proceeded to get the best international phone plan I would find and settled for daily phone calls and occasional texts. Later, Skype was launched and improved long distance relationships everywhere. Trips home were twice a year: Christmas (3 or 4 days if you’re lucky, it IS in the middle of basketball season), and summer (when I wasn’t playing in various overseas tournament with the junior Canadian national team at the time). Four years of this, plus a few more playing professionally, has brought me to this conclusion: It’s being away from everything you love, that makes you realize what you have.
Yes, the phone calls aren’t every day now, and the Skype calls are fewer and farther between, but each one holds a significance that grows greater with each passing year. Every professional basketball player (or volleyball, or water polo, or soccer…) has a story similar to mine. Years of dedication in exemplary college careers leading into a professional role in whichever field of play. And while it takes us away from our family, significant other, and friends during the year, at least we can cherish a few days at home during the most wonderful time of the year.
I contacted a few of my peers currently playing basketball in Europe – two in Romania and two in France – and spoke to them about the upcoming holiday. I asked them a few questions about what they do to prepare for their travel home, Christmas shopping methods, and “must have” items to bring back after the break.
What are you doing to prepare to go home?
Lizanne: “I have a countdown on BBM, eating my advent calendar daily, can’t pack in advance bc I mentally check out.”
Jonathan: “I have a countdown on my iPhone.”
Amanda: “I’ll start packing about a week in advance so I know what I want to take home and what I want to leave here.”
Stephany: “I’m not doing anything in particular to prepare to go home…just trying to stay busy because the days always seem to get longer this time of year. I definitely have a mental countdown going though.”
Do you pre-order your Christmas gifts online or do you wait till your home to do some last minute shopping?
L: I do a complete mixture of online shopping, buying small things in Europe and shopping once I’m home. But I plan it all in advance.”
J: “I’m doing shopping online to avoid doing all that last minute shopping.”
A: “Since I don’t get home till the day before Christmas Eve, it leaves me with no time to shop, so I pre-order all my gifts online.”
S: “I’ve actually done some online shopping this year, but I mostly wait until I’m home to do the bulk of my Christmas shopping.”
Do you bring anything special back from the states with you after the break ?
L: Hell yeah!!! Pure snacks!!! And I always do a change up on the wardrobe and some new socks”
J: “Got bring back a few snacks and movies/entertainment for down time.”
A: “Yes. I usually bring back snacks – like chips and candy – and I might exchange my clothes. And I’ll bring back a fresh supply of soaps and toiletries.”
S: “I always make sure I have fresh/new hair supplies, undies and seasonings for cooking!”
Lizanne Murphy is a fellow Canadian Olympic team member, an alumna of Hofstra University (2006), and currently playing for Aix-en-Provence in France. Jonathan Dupre, is a fellow Wave, an alum of Pepperdine (2011), and currently playing for Miercurea Ciuc in Romania. Amanda was the 2010 19th overall draft pick for the WNBA, an almna of The University of Oklahoma (2010) and currently playing for Alba Iulia in Romania. Stephany Skrba is a fellow Canadian, almna of University of Michigan (2009), and currently playing for Bourges in France. [Pictures top to bottom respectively]