Christmas time is a great time to spend with your loved ones and celebrate with each other the great things you have in life. Some may drink eggnog (with or without the brandy), others may have a big seafood dinner, and most of us will give and receive presents to show our affection for each other. Christmas for Stanford fans has been extremely cheerful since the turn of the decade. This will be the 5th Christmas in six years that while we enjoy the holidays, Stanford football is preparing for a major bowl game and this will be the 3rd Rose Bowl appearance since 2013. While the Rose Bowl memorabilia flows into our stockings whether it's a shirt, hat, or if you were really good this year, tickets to the game, we should really look back on this season and rejoice once again.
Tis the season to look back and compare important Stanford players and staff to some notable Christmas characters.
- Tavita Pritchard, Assistant Coach: Buddy the Elf (Elf). Tavita has always had a smile on his face no matter the situation and even when people were not too happy with his actions, he kept smiling. Pritchard has been a good little elf, with all due respect, going out and doing some of the hard work for Santa and turning high school kids into bright and shiny college toys for all the fans to see.
- Lance Anderson, Defensive Coordinator: TurboMan (Jingle All The Way). Lance "the dance" Anderson is a superhero for Stanford on and off the field. When he isn't crafting a defense that's built to bend but never break, he's out on recruiting trips making sure top student-athletes are doing everything to make sure they can get into an elite university and play elite football.
- David Shaw, Head Coach: Santa Claus. Shaw is the man that runs the show. Without him, Stanford might have fallen back on hard times and every year around Christmas, you can bet that Stanford is probably playing in a big bowl game. It also helps that Shaw is a family-man who loves to help others.
- Shannon Turley, Strength and Conditioning Coach: John McClane (Die Hard). Turley is a tough S.O.B. who will put others in extremely tough situations and will make a few smart remarks along the way. The specimens that he has created in the weight room makes me believe he would actually walk on glass if it was allowed.
- Joshua Garnett, unanimous All-American Offensive Lineman: The Polar Express Train (Polar Express). Garnett doesn't even get a character from the film as he is so monstrous on the field, he gets the whole train. Garnett ran through just about any player that came near him and he made sure that whoever was running behind him would have a clear path to paradise.
- Austin Hooper and Dalton Schultz, Tight Ends: Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine (Trading Places). Hooper started off the season as the go-to tight end but when he would struggle, Schultz was there to pick up the slack and sometimes you couldn't tell who was who. When they are both on, they work as a tremendous unit and nobody could get in their way.
- Blake Martinez, Linebacker: The Grinch. Martinez is a great guy off the field but when he puts on that helmet, he takes the "holly jolly" spirit right out of the opposition. Martinez would take away big gains, tackle everything in sight (leading the Pac-12 in tackles), and would hit you so hard, you might actually believe you lived in Whoville.
- Ronnie Harris, Defensive Back: The Ghost of Christmas Future (A Christmas Carol). Harris was the key to moving Stanford in the right direction and when you look back now, he foreshadowed this. Harris is one of the elder statesmen on the team and wanted to make sure to tell Shaw that players like emotions. Players get amped up when they see some fire in their coach's belly. Harris was able to show Shaw how the team would respond with him being emotional on the sidelines and that ended up with an 11-2 season. Harris would also prove to be valuable to the future as his injury is one of the major factors in why Stanford lost to Oregon.
- Quenton Meeks, Defensive Back: Kevin McCallister (Home Alone). Meeks was a true freshman who received legitimate playing time right away. Even though he was very young, he was more than capable of handling himself in tough situations. Without Meeks, it's possible that this Christmas would have been a bad one as Meeks used his own tricks to somehow save the season against the "wet bandits" aka Washington State.
- Kevin Hogan, Quarterback: Ralphie (A Christmas Story). All Kevin Hogan wanted to do at Stanford was become a starting quarterback. He didn't want much but when he gained the ropes of a squad on the brink of a conference championship, he finally wanted his red-rider BB gun. Everyone kept criticizing him for believing that his dream was doable and he'd shoot his eye out. Even when Santa kicked him in the face in 2014, he never gave up. On January 1st, 2016 in Pasadena, Hogan has a chance to go out on top with his ultimate dream and what was once a fool's dream would become a Christmas dream come true.
- Christian McCaffrey Should have been Heisman Running Back: McCaffrey's 2015 season can be summed up in 3 different characters. He was part gremlin because he turned into a monster under the biggest and brightest lights and kept eating after midnight... But the East Coast wouldn't know about those feedings. He is part Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer as he guided this team when it seemed like they were left for dead after the Northwestern game. A billion all-purpose yards later, he broke a record which again was treated like trash by the East Coast and lead Stanford to a conference championship. And the last part although isn't necessarily Christmas, The baby Jesus that Will Ferrell mentions over and over in Talladega Nights. McCaffrey is the new lord and savior and saved this football program. His characteristics aren't what most people would take out of a running back but he was the chosen one.
So as we gather with our friends and family for Christmas, let's not forget that just 10 years ago, it felt like we would never have a "rosy" Christmas ever again. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and let the countdown for Santa Claus and The Rose Bowl begin.