Ben's Babbles: My Christmas gift to you

December 24, 2011

Christmas is an odd time of the year for sports. Unless you regularly cover the NBA, college football bowl games, or like this year, the NFL, the period surrounding the holiday is where everything takes a break.

College basketball players head home for a few days; high school sports shut down. Everything stops.

And that's the way it should be. Although it does make life hard for reporters, who still have content inches to fill.

But there is usually something to report on. If you are a national political reporter you follow the president to Best Buy and ruin his kids' Christmases by reporting what gifts he bought. If you work in TV news you just find a cute story on a cute fuzzy animal.

Just like in the rest of the world with gift giving, the Christmas season always seems to sneak up on me.

One week I'm in the thick of covering game after game and then the next week it's a mad scramble to fill a page.

And then once I've filled the page, it's a mad scramble to finish all the Christmas shopping I had forgotten to do.

Maybe it's because they have forgotten to do their Christmas shopping too, but every Christmas sports column winds up being one of two things: a sappy human interest story, or a pun on Christmas songs.

So I could write you a play on the 12 days of Christmas with some sort of sports connection, or I could write you a nice human interest story (but I already have one of those coming next week).

Besides, I would imagine if you are reading a sports column, you have already read a dozen or Christmas themed NBA previews, football bowl stories, or a debate over who was the biggest Grinch of the year in sports. All of them are probably better than anything I could write.

So I will give you something else entirely.

This time of year we are all busy, trying to finish up last-minute gift shopping, and to spend time with our families.

So with that, go finish your wrapping, stick the ham in the oven and grab some cocoa and sit in front of a fire.

My Christmas gift to you is a short column and not having to read any more from me today.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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