Holiday Cheer in the NFL One Team at A Time

Excuse the late hour at which I am posting this feature (nearly midnight on the east coast), but this Christmas in the NFL project turned into a much greater beast than I had originally intended. What I first thought would be a quick project after my kids went to bed -- running through the NFL's 32 teams to collect holiday videos -- became an hours-long task. Not only where there a lot of features, I ended up watching most of them without realizing I was doing so. Since nearly every NFL team had a feature other than its holiday card (the AFC edged out the NFC in fun videos, though), I have taken the liberty of dividing them up into categories: philanthropic, player Q&A, and special snowflake. You will understand the need for the special snowflake section once you get there.


It was genuinely wonderful to see all of the wonderful events put on by teams and the individual players. So much Christmas cheer being spread to those less fortunate!

Player Q&As

My top takeaway from these Q&As: boys love their toys. Top gifts by most players were video game consoles. I can honestly say I fall into that category as well; I received a Nintendo (the original) as a kindergartner. Prize for strangest answer definitely goes to Texans center Ben Jones, who says his pet pig and a cow were his favorite gifts of all time.

Special Snowflake

This section truly is special. We have poems, competitions, and Ave Maria.

The Life Lesson I Have Found in the Movie Home Alone

gratitude in Home Alone"This house is so full of people it makes me sick. When I grow up and get married, I'm living alone!" Along with a shared love of cheese pizza, Kevin McAllister and I shared a fairly similar worldview. I related to this quote all through my high school years; I couldn't wait to leave for college and get away from family. Freedom was my ultimate goal.

It wasn't until campus was seven hours from home that I found myself more homesick than summer camp of '98. The desire I placed so highly on a pedestal was slowly showing its negative side -- loneliness.

Focusing on what 'Could Be'

How many times do we look to our future and place our happiness on what could be?

"If ____ happens, then I will be happy."

Just like Home Alone, we find ourselves "thirsty for more" (sorry, I had to). We obsess over a shift in our lives and how that shift might finally make us happy. Instead, we need to learn to be happy and satisfied with our circumstances in every present moment.

Christmas Memories

What comes to mind when you think about Christmas?  My memories are staged at my grandparents' house at the kids' table.  It's upsetting that it usually takes a death in the family or a decrease in gatherings to finally realize how much we long for those times. I would give anything to be in their living room with my cousin while football played in the background.  How ironic that -- fifteen years later -- football is no longer background noise, but the one thing that secludes me.

Just like military families, those who work in the healthcare field, or those who simply live far away from home, I am sad to be apart from my loved ones during the holidays. Instead of rejoicing, I find myself ungrateful for my present circumstances on the one day dedicated to appreciating life.

Post-Football Fantasy

Home Alone gratitude

I actually catch myself fantasizing of a life post-football.

A life when I won't be 2,500 miles from my family, when my driver's license will finally match my residence and when I'll know how to answer the seemingly-innocent question, "Where are you from?"

Don't get me wrong -- I will truly miss these years. I've been to a number of places and met so many amazing people. What I'm working on is learning to appreciate the moment. I have to stop thinking about an "ideal" situation. Similar to gleaning a wheat field, I will make an effort to take all the 'scraps' the world views as trivial, gather and embrace them.

I'm working to turn my typical areas of complaint into areas to rejoice. Instead of resenting house cleaning, I'm rejoicing that I have a house to clean. I may struggle to sleep, but I'm struggling in a warm bed.

Living in the present is difficult. But imagine how much happier we will be if we appreciate the now instead of hoping for a change in our circumstances to produce satisfaction.

Think of Home Alone. After just one day of eating all the ice cream he could eat and watching more than enough Angels with Filthy Souls, Kevin was ready for everything to go back to how it used to be.

Holiday Decor in a Small Living Space

Like many other WAGS, apartment living has become the norm for my family. When your significant other has to move from one side of the country to the other, in the middle of the season, it is very hard to pack up a house, sell it, and move within a short period of time.  Apartments are very convenient, allowing short term leasing and catering to the instability of the NFL. The downside to living in an apartment during the holidays is most definitely the lack of ability to personalize décor. I love holiday decorations and if I had my way, I would probably paint my door red and green. However, I’ve had to learn to be creative and work with what I have. Here are a few helpful tips when decorating your apartment for the holidays.

I love holiday decorations and if I had my way, I would probably paint my door red and green.

  • Opt for a small artificial Christmas tree over a large live tree. Unfortunately, some apartments do not allow live trees because of the fire risk it poses. Also, a real tree may not be conducive to a small space that may already be cramped. A small artificial tree is not only a space saver, it is also cost-effective. I was able to pick up a pre-lit six feet tree from Target for only $30.
  • String lights along the balcony/porch. I love driving past houses during the holidays and observing all of the amazing lighting, inflatable snowmen, and reindeer. Apartments however, lack the yard space for such a display. This is where lighting a balcony comes in handy. A simple outlining of the railing will give your apartment a sleek holiday look, and also make it stand out amongst your neighbors.
  • Purchase evergreen-scented packs and hang them inside of the tree. I know there is nothing like the smell of a live fir tree to put you in the mood for some holiday caroling. This is a smell that an artificial tree will never be able replicate on its own, but a brilliant person came up with this solution. The evergreen-scented packs will definitely fill a home with the smell of a freshly cut tree.
  • Hang a holiday wreath on the door. Like I said before, I would love to paint my door and definitely get in the holiday spirit but I’m sure my property manager wouldn’t be the least bit amused. A nice holiday wreath will set the mood for guests and anyone who walks past your door, and let them know you are decking the halls.

I hope these tips help you along the way and put you in a joyful mood!

- Taylor