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Baranek: Special memories make Christmas season bright

Sandburg's Carly Katalinic with her brothers Brett (left) Kevafter their Christmas surprise 2007. | Supplied photo

Sandburg's Carly Katalinic with her brothers Brett (left) and Kevin after their Christmas surprise in 2007. | Supplied photo

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Updated: January 26, 2013 6:09AM



Before we head out to the games, let’s fill up with some holiday spirit through the Christmas memories of the kids who will be playing them ...

Sandburg senior Carly Katalinic remembers Christmas 2007 when she and her two brothers raced to the tree, only to find little boxes of yellow golf tees sitting underneath.

“We just sat there staring at them,” she said. “We didn’t have any idea why our parents would get us tees for Christmas. Finally, I figured it out and we started sprinting downstairs. That was funny.”

When they got there, they found a Golden Tee game.

“It still works today,” Katalinic said. “Good quality.”

Queen of Peace senior Hannah Lipman said she’ll always remember Christmas 2011. Santa Claus wasn’t the only special visitor.

“My Uncle Dennis (hosted) a foreign exchange student from China for the first time. His name was Li,” she said. “While all of the adults were upstairs, all of the cousins hung out in the basement with Li, watching the Bulls play and hearing Li make comments the whole time.

“Li came to my next home game after the holidays to cheer me on, with my number taped on his shirt. Li learned pretty quickly that sports, whether it is basketball or not, are a huge part of the entire family.”

Opening Christmas gifts is a family affair for Richards senior Georgia Danos.

“Every year we go to church on Christmas Eve, and afterward we have the whole family come over at midnight,” she said. “That’s when we open up all of our presents. Spending that time with my family is very special.”

L.J. McIntosh, of Marist, must not have been naughty at all when he was 10 years old. Consider this haul he made on Christmas morning.

“I received a pair of Jordans for the rest of the basketball season, an iPod as well as a new computer, plus more,” he said. “It was just one of those memories I’ll never forget because my eyes lit up and I was truly happy. It had to be the best Christmas ever.

Tinley Park’s Allison Anson got quite the surprise last year when Titans coach Jason Becker took the whole team out for a Christmas dinner.

“We went to Buffalo Wild Wings,” Anson said. “When we walked in and sat down everybody was looking at their phones and laughing and smiling. While we were eating, the waitress all of a sudden came with a birthday cupcake and candles.

“When I saw she was coming to our table I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, who’s birthday is it?’ The waitress said, “Why, it’s yours!’ Coach Becker had texted the whole team and told them and the waitress that it was my birthday. They played a little joke on me.”

Her birthday?

“It’s really in August,” Anson said, laughing.

Jacob Littleton, of Shepard, believes it’s better to give than receive — least when you’re having a little fun.

“My favorite Christmas memory was last Christmas when I gave my aunt an Alan B. Shepard “Orange Crush” T-shirt as a Christmas gift,” he said. “Everyone in my family either played for or went to Richards High School. It was fun watching them all squirm as she put on the shirt.

Megan Walsh, of Marian Catholic, said one of her favorite Christmas memories came out because of an aunt’s and uncle’s creativity.

“Weeks before Christmas they were asking random questions to everyone and we all just answered them, not knowing why,” she related. “Christmas night came and they made a board for us to play Family Feud with, just like the one on TV. We split into two teams and had so much fun competing against each other. My team won, which made it even more fun.”

Oak Lawn’s Jill Steigerwald spent Christmas Day 2011 watching NBA games.

“Last Christmas Day was when the NBA lockout ended and the Lakers were playing (the Bulls),” she said. “Me and my mom and my sister were in my mom’s room, and my brother and my dad and my grandpa were downstairs.

“Because they rewound the game to see a play, there was like a delay in the two TVs. When they (the Bulls) won, we were all in my mom’s room screaming. Everyone downstairs was quiet, but then two minutes later you could hear them all scream. I guess the delay worked out because everyone got surprised.”

John Sinclair, of Stagg, remembers when the lights went out for Christmas.

“We always host our family Christmas get-together on Christmas Eve,” he said. “One Christmas when I was 8 or 9, the day before Christmas Eve came and the outside lights didn’t turn on. My father was determined to make sure our house would be lit up for the family, so he went to the store and got all new lights.

“The morning of Christmas Eve all five of us came together as a family to take down all of the old lights and replace them with the new ones through the frigid weather and snow that covered the ground. It was a mad scramble, but by the time the family arrived for the party the house was looking better than ever. It was truly a morning I’ll never forget.”

On that note, Merry Christmas. See you at the tournaments.



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