A tip of my Santa hat goes to ….

Published 11:19 am Monday, December 12, 2016

Some people love to do their Christmas shopping early.

Well, I still like them anyway.

You see, that’s because Christmas just ain’t Christmas unless I’m in the department store fighting with some lady over that last brown scarf that I want to send to my cousin, and holding on to it at the other end for dear life in a vice grip is … well, you get the idea. There’s rarely any room for compromise when you’re making spirits bright.

This year, thanks to eBay, Amazon, and other online websites that got me away from the brick-and-mortar stores and all that last-minute madness I love so well, I actually got to stuff my stocking early.

Now, with all this time left on my hands – but no money – I  guess it’s time to pull on my ugly Christmas sweater, reach deep down in Santa’s sack and pull out some presents for folks who may be surprised to receive them. And since I love surprises, let me clear my throat and sing my sleighing song tonight.

My first gift-wrapped wonder goes to the Chowan University football team.  I put them on my Christmas list because while they didn’t make the CIAA championship, or the post-season as a wild-card, they provided more than a stocking-stuffer’s share of excitement for their fans this past fall season.  I wasn’t surprised to see that the Heritage Sports Radio Network ranked them fifth (behind Winston-Salem State, Bowie, Virginia State, and Tuskegee) in their final poll.  The Hawks ended their season with a 73-point romp to finish 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the CIAA – two years running with a winning mark both in the league and overall, a first since becoming D2. You deserved it fellas, so this slice of figgy-pudding with a candy cane on top goes to you, so be of good cheer.

I want to rock around the Christmas tree for all the Roanoke-Chowan high school football teams for the successful year they all had.  For Hertford County and Northampton there are sleigh bells ring-a-ling for their teams making it to the third round of the playoffs. The Gates County Red Barons earned their mistletoe and holly with their seven-game win streak; and even for a squad like Bertie, whose future looks as bright as the star atop the tree.  With an upturn in everyone’s fortunes, it looks like your troubles will be miles away.

Next on the gift list is golfer Harold Varner III.  The Charlotte native and ECU grad won the Australian PGA Championship Dec. 4 for his first pro victory.  He may not be Tiger Woods, and this is the European Tour, but I’m no Grinch. Varner’s had four top-10 PGA Tour finishes last season and picked up more than $1.3 million in prize money – one-fifth that amount ($250,000) just last weekend. That ought to make it a holly-jolly Christmas this year.

Finally, as I write this, I learned about the death of the last original Mercury astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn. We don’t have old-fashioned heroes like Glenn around anymore. He was my inspiration to become a pilot until my lack of 20/20 vision derailed that ambition.   After serving in the Senate, Glenn retired from politics and went back into space on the space shuttle Discovery – at the age of 77!  This time he wasn’t alone, he had a crew of eight.  He always said his one regret was that he never went on a moon mission.  Circling the earth, Glenn did more than rock around the Christmas tree.  He truly had ‘the right stuff’.  My condolences to his family because it really just ain’t Christmas without the ones we love.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.