Each year, The Times sports staff asks some of our region athletes and coaches to recount their favorite holiday memories. Below are their responses.
From our Times sports family to yours, happy holidays.
Too big for the ride
Merrillville senior basketball player Dariyan Morris was gifted a beautiful Barbie car as a youngster.
A 5-foot-3 guard now, Morris was equally small as a child.
So when she saw the car, she figured it was just the right size for her.
"I tried so hard to fit myself into that Barbie car," Morris said. "I put up a fuss when I couldn't get into it.
"My family still talks about that story every year."
Many children, one tree
Bishop Noll freshman Naomi House is the middle of eight children, meaning that if every sibling bought something for every other sibling for Christmas, the expense would be immense for a high school basketball player.
Instead, Christmas is a relaxed affair at the House home. The big holidays are birthdays.
"We get a lot for our birthdays, so Christmas isn't really as big of a deal," House said. "We usually have a dinner at my grandma's and she still gives us all presents. Then we sit back and chill, watch a football game, then go outside and play basketball."
House said she learned some of the basketball skills that are helping her average 17 points per game for the Warriors during holiday shoot-arounds.
"When I was little, my cousin used to pull me outside and play with the men when they were on the basketball court," House said. "That's how I learned."
A memory frozen in time
By Valparaiso gymnastics coach Lorie Cook
I have a lot of great memories from Christmas, but it's hard to top this one.
In 1983, I delivered my son Jason at 1:33 a.m. on Christmas Day. We had fortunately -- and wisely -- decided the day before against driving down to the in-laws in Centerville, because of my pregnancy and the extreme cold. On the way to the hospital at 1 a.m., we passed a sign with the temperature -- 28 degrees below zero, a record-setter! Thirty minutes later, I gave birth, and Christmas continues to be a time of double celebration for our family.
The worst Christmas ever
By Andrean's Matt Ruberry
I was nine years old. My mom and dad, or Santa I guess, gave me a Nerf hoop game, the one that played music when you made a shot. But I never got that far. I thought it was the coolest gift ever.
I opened it up and ran down stairs and sat it up all by myself. I took the first shot. It hit the rim and the rim broke and fell. Then, the backboard fell to the floor and shattered. I started crying. I was really mad.
I spent the rest of the day in my room. I didn't want to eat. It was really close to ruining Christmas.
But my dad, Tim, said he would build a fort with me in the snow. That made me feel a little better. My mom, Andrea, told me I would get another one.
But you know what, I never did.
I guess if I got a new Nerf hoop this Christmas it would make me feel better.
The sneaky little elf
By Andrean's D.J. Gonzalez
This was the Christmas where Gilbert Arenas was in the PlayStation 3 NBA Live 2008 game. I think I was 12.
That night my goal was to see Santa, so I fell asleep and woke up about 1 a.m. I snuck downstairs and saw all the presents under the tree. It was cool and exciting. I opened the NBA Live game and started playing it really quietly. I played the game for about four hours.
Then it hit me. I got scared. I thought, 'Oh no, my parents are going to know.' I wrapped the gift back up, perfectly. I stitched it all up, but I didn't put the game back in the box because I wanted to keep playing.
When we were opening presents the next morning I kept looking at the gift. I didn't want my parents to find out, so I walked over and picked it up and tore the wrapping paper off and took it to my room. The game was still in the PlayStation 3.
I had to do it really quickly.
My parents never knew. Well, until now.
Waiting for grandpa
Each Christmas, Jon Moneta and his family gather for the holiday at his aunt Holly's in DeMotte.
Festivities may not be quite the same this year, when there will be a deeper tone of appreciation.
The Hebron basketball and baseball player found out after hoops practice Thursday that his grandpa, Fred Denton, of Hammond, had suffered a heart attack.
"Our whole family's real close, and he's one of the main characters of our family," Moneta said. "He's very sarcastic, very funny. I definitely get a lot of my personality from him."
Denton underwent successful quadruple bypass surgery Friday, a process that took approximately six hours. Moneta missed the Hawks' game against Clark, before which the team said a prayer for Denton. Moneta, who visited his grandpa Saturday morning, said the prognosis is good.
"He was cracking jokes," he said.
With the recovery going better than initially expected, there's at least an outside chance he will be able to spend Christmas with the family. If not, they will postpone their gathering until Denton is released from the hospital.
Above and beyond all the presents, the greatest gift is being together.
"We'll all be happier, more thankful, having him around," Moneta said.