Twas the Night Before Christmas and Charlie Manuel Is Santa

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Twas the Night Before Christmas and Charlie Manuel Is Santa
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Twas the night before Christmas…

 

At least that’s what it feels like because the anticipation is killing me. But not in the way that little kids lie awake with giddiness at what Santa will bring.

 

This is the anxiety of a parent who hopes she came close to fulfilling a kid’s wishes on a limited budget to extend the belief in a childhood hero for yet another year.

 

But she won’t know until it’s over.

 

I imagine the Phillies are feeling the same way. Even when faced with a second consecutive World Series appearance, it’s almost a moot point to point to last year’s achievements.

 

We entered the 2008 Series playing underdog to a Cinderella team. This year we’re told we shouldn’t have bothered to try out—Hollywood’s Dodgers should have taken us out of contention like a blockbuster up against a lame comedy.

 

It’s like we’re the movie extra that got a spot because the star came down sick.

 

Do we dare dream of repeating?

 

I will. I’ve got sugar plums dancing in my head.

 

My husband says that’s not the only thing dancing in my head.

 

But sugar plums? Let’s be honest. No one really knows what a sugar plum is or does. I mean that could be secret code for dropping acid or something like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds .

 

And for years we’ve recited that beloved Christmas poem to kids on the night before a hairy fat man dressed in bright velvet scurries down a chimney to drop presents they wanted from a list he’s never seen.

 

What did parents used to take before they settled down for that long winter’s nap?

 

All I know is, in my world, visions of Shane Victorino dance in my head. And if Shane is made of sugar, I’m gonna find out how many licks it takes to get to the middle.

 

I’m sorry, was I thinking out loud?

 

It’s not my fault. I was just folding up my Jayson Werth blanket and got stuck in a hallucination about the Ladies Day giveaway at Citizens Bank Park next year.

 

I suggest the Jayson Werth thong. It would hug my hips so nice and cozy that the next time he steals home I could say I knew him in a biblical sense, and I’d only be half faking it.

 

My husband says he knows how that feels.

 

But like Carly Simon says, anticipation is making me wait. It’s as nerve-racking as watching my child start at second base for the first time. It’s knowing what the worst can be, but hoping for the best.

 

I still remember when my baby got his first force-out at second. For weeks we’d tried to convince him that when the shortstop fielded a ball, second base should be covered by, well—the second baseman.

 

So, of course, the inevitable happened. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the tying run on first, the shortstop fielded a grounder. But when position six turned to second base, we did exactly what he did—held our breath hoping my son wasn’t chasing butterflies.

 

But amazingly, the child I had just told to get his finger out of his nose was posed on second, foot abutting the base, glove raised to accommodate a throw. Simple toss, simple out; game over.

 

My child’s eyes—how they twinkled, his teammates how merry...

 

It was one play in a game of plays. It was one out in a game of outs. It was one child in a game of chance. It was a moment in time that will live forever in my mind.

 

So, no matter what happens on Wednesday night, it will be just like Christmas to a mom. Instead of opening presents, I will embark on a journey of collecting moments. A World Series appearance to me is simply an extension of time to collect them. And I will sit on my couch with my child under my arm and point out everything that exists about the great game of baseball and the team we call the Phightin’ Phils.

 

With players conditioned and swift

A course as defined as a Christmas list

And a skipper who looks like Saint Nick

This series will be a hit.

 

Sorry for the cheesy poetry—I just couldn’t help myself. This time of year always does that to me.

 

Go Phils!

 

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