Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's the (second) Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

...March Madness! And truth to tell, you have to wonder if maybe this isn’t the *first* most wonderful time of the year, eclipsing even that of the Christmas season (when aforementioned song is supposed to be sung!)—not of course because of what it means, but because of what it doesn't mean. Think about it: 1. No one’s stressing about presents or shopping. 2. No one’s stressing about decorating (unless, of course, you have more than one college flag to hang, and in that case, I’ll help!), cooking, baking, family dinner hassles, or trying to avoid flying fruitcake. 3. No one’s stressing about a higher electric bill (unless, of course, you hang Basketball Lights…and if you do, I want to know where you got them). 4. No one’s stressing about much of anything more important than who should’ve got in, who did get in and shouldn’t have, who got left out, who got a free pass, and who’s going to be this year’s “Cinderfellas,” as one sports hose called them. In other words…no one’s stressing except the coaches and probably the players. (And parents, of course. Nothing like being the parent of an athlete in a tournament for encouraging you to get out your Rosary. Trust me on this.) Oh, of course, there are people who put some substantial money on the games—now there’s a stressor, if you choose to go that route. But for most of us, with the exception of the office pool or a few friendly wagers, that particular stressor doesn’t even enter the radar. Unlike the Christmas season, when even people who don’t know the meaning of the holiday will plunge in full-tilt and end up broke, the only ones truly riding the rollercoaster of this time of year in any real way are players, coaches, families, and college rooters. Which is as it should be. Short of Thanksgiving, this is the most fun non-present-buying “holiday” season lots of us have; short of maybe the World Series, it’s probably the sports event that most people truly enjoy. Super Bowl Sunday is another non-holiday “holiday”…but that’s only really about two teams (and commercials!). The NCAA and NIT are about many, many teams. 64 in one case, 32 in the other (not to mention the conference-championship tournament week or two before, which is a special madness all its own). That’s a lot of basketball, a lot of entertainment for the time spent, and a lot of dreaming, all rolled up in a few days in March. Best of all? Every year, some of those dreams come true. Some “little team that could” beats the odds and brings its fans along on a ride that, however long it lasts, is magic. And I’m the world’s biggest sucker for that kind of magic. So fill in your brackets, or find someone who does, and tune into some of the games. I’ll save you a spot on the couch, we’ll have snacks, do some yelling and jumping up and down (on occasion!), and the best part? When it’s all over, we won’t even have pine needles to try to sweep out of the carpet. :-) Happy March Madness to all, and may your team win! Janny

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