We had grown into a major high school with almost 3,000 students—but our new gymnasium was still under construction. We were to play our cross-town rivals at home with the district basketball championship riding on the outcome. Our little gym, however, only held about 440 spectators—standing room only—and the head coach from the rival team insisted that we move the game either to his gym or to a neutral site. He knew, and rightly so, that our little gym could not accommodate all the fans they planned to bring.
“Too bad,” said our head coach. “The rules say we have the right to play the game at home and that is what we are going to do!” It fell to me, as principal, to stand at the entrance and turn away great numbers of their angry, disappointed fans. The game was a noisy barn burner. At the final buzzer of the hard-fought contest, our team sank the winning basket and we came off victorious. “That’s the home court advantage,” said our head coach with a broad grin.
There’s a lot to be said for playing a game at home supported by loyal, boisterous fans. There’s also a lot to be said for being at home for Christmas surrounded by those we love and who love us. Unfortunately, due to a myriad of reasons, that is not always possible. But, when I went away to school I always tried to be at home for Christmas.
Nowadays, the “Merry Christmas” I knew as a child has given way to the more politically correct “Happy Holidays.” After all, we don’t want to offend anyone not of our religious persuasion. “Humbug!” say I! Christmas is Christmas.
Someone sent me via email the following poem, “A Lost Kind of Christmas.” It was signed “anonymous” so I cannot give the proper credit to its originator but I think it speaks eloquently of Christmas and the Home Court Advantage:
“Twas the night before Christmas and out on the ranch
The pond was froze over and so was the branch.
The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.
The kids were all home on vacation from school,
And happier young folks you never did see—
Just sprawled around a-watchin’ T.V.
Then suddenly, some time around 8 o’clock,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!
The power went off, the T.V. went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed
With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.
“Just what I expected,” they heard him remark.
“Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago.”
“I’ll hunt up some candles,” said Mom. “With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we’ll make out all right.”
The teen-agers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle and started to play
That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.
Mom started to sing, and first thing I knew
Both Pop and the kids were all singing it, too.
They sang Christmas carols, they sang “Holy Night,”
Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.
They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God’s Book of Truth.
They stayed up till midnight and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed, ‘twas a fine Christmas Eve.
Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on.
“The power company sure got the line repaired quick,”
Said Grandpa—no one suspected his trick.
Last night, for the sake of some old fashioned fun,
He had pulled the main switch—the old Son-of-Gun!”
Y’all have a Merry Christmas… and God bless us every one!