Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A few Christmas wishes

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The poetic point I'm trying to make (and I am trying to make one) is that I (and by "I," I mean "every guy I know") need to join the throng of last-minute male shoppers right now and use all my mental energy to decide if my wife would truly appreciate getting a variable-speed belt sander under the tree this year, whereas you (and by "you," I mean "all the understanding women married to insensitive lunkheads like me") need an informative and entertaining column to calm your jangled holiday nerves.

Fortunately, I prepared for this moment recently when I served as a judge at the 103rd annual Santa Claus Parade. Joining me on the expert panel were Jim Ludlow, president and CEO of True North Sports and Entertainment; Garth Buchko, president and CEO of the Bombers; Goldeyes GM Andrew Collier; and legendary radio personality Don "the Master of the Morning" Percy.

I asked each of my fellow judges what they'd like Santa to bring them this year, because I knew, deep in my heart, I could lash their answers together into a column, then hit the mall with all the other guys to finish shopping. Here's what they told me:

Fish boss Andrew Collier: "I got my Christmas present early this September -- the American Association championship. I'd like Santa to bring us a repeat. That would be great. And I'd like to be able to watch some NHL in the new year in my seats."

Bomber boss Garth Buchko: "Like Andrew, I have two wishes. My first present would be health and happiness for my family and friends. The second would be the celebration of the opening of our new stadium, Investors Group Field, next year."

Then, after the briefest pause, he added: "And a Grey Cup. OK, that's three."

True North boss Jim Ludlow: "I would have said a Charlie Brown figurine. I love that stuff. My kids get that for me every year."

Fearing the Jets boss might be missing an obvious wish, I politely inquired whether he might not consider asking Santa (or the Grinch) for an end to the NHL lockout that is taking the jingle out of hockey fans' bells this year. He smiled and said: "We'd all wish for that under the tree."

During the parade, the always loquacious Don Percy fired off a non-stop stream of witty remarks, but asked what he wanted from Santa, Don became unexpectedly silent.

Then, with an elf-like grin, he chirped: "I just had my 75th birthday, so I would like Santa to bring me another birthday."

This made all us expert parade judges nod our heads. "That's a good one, Don," Jim Ludlow observed.

Finally, on Friday, while polishing off a highly accurate holiday weather column, I nagged my buddy Dale Marciski from Environment Canada to forecast his fondest Christmas wish.

"I wish Santa would bring everyone a warm place to be in the wintertime," Dale began quietly. "And I hope we get some interesting weather in the coming year, but nothing too dangerous.

"If I didn't get a present under the tree, I couldn't care less, because Christmas is about being together with people you love. That's the only important thing."

And Dale is right, Winnipeg. So if Santa doesn't bring you your heart's desire, don't let it ruin your Christmas. Because, no matter what the Mayans might have said, it's not the end of the world.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 24, 2012 A2

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