From My Window: Christmas lights create holiday mood; prep basketball a joy

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
I must admit to being a bit of a Scrooge. It has been more than just a couple of decades since I became excited about Christmas. As an adult on my own until I got married at the age of 29, there wasn’t much to look forward to.

I never did have a hankering for really expensive things, so I was in a position that if I wanted something, I would go out and buy it.
Sometimes I had to save for a couple of months, but most of the time I didn’t have to save. I mean how much does a fishing rod and a couple of lures cost—$25 back then for a good Shakespeare rod and a few Panther Martin lures?
When I was single, I went out for a prime rib dinner on Christmas or went to someone’s house for either turkey or ham. I was grateful for a good meal no matter what form it came in and no matter the time of year.
Getting married didn’t really change things much because I still didn’t want anything extravagant, and while my wife now of 33 years, Cris, would in no way let me go by without buying anything, her Christmas gift lists, while extravagant next to mine, still aren’t unreasonable.
Because we had ourselves and because we usually lived hundreds of miles from relatives, we got in the habit on Christmas Eve of driving around wherever it was we were living, stopping for a hot chocolate, and going driving around town for a couple of hours looking at the lights strung from the houses and trees and businesses in town.
Then the Christmas mood would return. It lasted the Christmas Eve eve and on into Christmas Day. Even though I still don’t get terribly excited about Christmas Day to this day, it really is my favorite time of year with the lights, the good moods that most people appear to be in and I even like the colder weather as long as it doesn’t get down to 25- and 30-below zero like it has done the past two winters.
I am also grateful that the wind doesn’t blow a whole lot here during the winter. And if you think the wind blows a lot here, I can give you the names of a lot of towns in a lot of different states that really do blow cold and hard during the winter.
Anyway, while Cris and I have done a lot of driving around at night looking for homes that are decorated to feature in the newspaper, I am still looking forward to going out on Christmas Eve. My wife and I will head out with our hot chocolate and drive up and down darned near every street in Meeker and we will thoroughly enjoy the lights on the homes and businesses and think of the children’s smiling faces all over Rio Blanco County and elsewhere as there certainly is something magical about the day—and uplifting to children and adults.
Including me!
Merry Christmas a week from today … here’s hoping that the spirit of the holiday is with you and that you are with or in touch with your loved ones.

It has been many years since I covered university/college, community college and/or high school basketball as part of my career in the newspaper business, a time I thoroughly enjoyed.
I love basketball and it is second only to professional/college football and golf as far as my television watching is concerned.
But when I stopped covering basketball for professional reasons, I found it wise to stay away from the local games—particularly high school—because I was no longer in that department, and it became quite unpleasant to hear only the negative comments from the fans, who turn into immediate critics as soon as you are not the sports writer covering their team.
I wasn’t responsible for anything having to do with sports as I moved over to the news side of the business, and those two departments rarely intermingle because of different interests, different bosses, different hours of work and the unspoken angst at a large paper was that news didn’t like sports because they took up too much of the paper and sports didn’t like news because they took up too much of the paper.
So it went for many years. I was on one side of the business—news—and sports was in its own little world.
I’ve had enough of it.
Meeker and Rangely have had some good football teams, outstanding basketball teams (boys and girls), some great wrestling teams, volleyball teams and track, field and cross country teams. Over the years, both of these schools have had a lot to be proud of.
When I was on the sports desk at the Casper Star-Tribune (Wyo.), I even used to travel with the Casper College men’s and women’s basketball teams to Rangely to face an often-tough foe from CNCC, known then to us as just “Northwestern.”
I went home this past Friday night and told my wife I wanted to go to the championship basketball game in the White River Electric Association’s Cowboy Shootout, which was being held at MHS on Saturday afternoon.
I have no clue as to what year it was I attended my last high school basketball game, but I would be close if I said 1983. Yep, that is 32 years ago.
Well, Cris and I made it to championship game of the Cowboy Shootout on Saturday.
That was a blast.
First of all, it was great to get out of the house. Secondly, it was great to see a lot of friends at the game. Third, I found it as exciting as I ever had.
Meeker was facing the Fruita Junior Varsity (Fruita is a 4A school and the junior varsities as that level are good teams).
There were more turnovers at that level, the shooting isn’t quite as good as at the college level and the players aren’t dunking their shots, but that is about the only difference.
It is a time when the kids are good shooters, they obviously love the game and they aren’t all caught up in what “the media” are saying about the team and the players. It was just good old fun basketball—back to the basics.
Meeker’s boys started slowly, then pulled out to a big lead. Then they let Fruita creep back into the game before holding off the opponent and moving on to victory—capturing all three tournament games, going 3-0 on the season as the tournament was the opening of the season. And they displayed great sportsmanship.
It won’t be the only game I go to nor will basketball be the only sport I will attend in Rio Blanco County.
I came out of the MHS gym feeling about 20 years younger, and, by golly, that is a good thing. I’d recommend it to those folks in Meeker or Rangely who are used to sitting at home in front of the TV set on Fridays and Saturday nights, to find out when the local high schools’ various sports teams are playing and get out once in a while to catch the Rangely or Meeker high school athletes.
I’m glad I did.

The snow is continuing to fall on a somewhat regular schedule, and it is beginning to look like another really good winter as far as snowpack is concerned around here and in the Flat Tops Wilderness.
Day by day the snow is continuing to mount, even in the valleys, and only one of the few true statements that can be made is, “you really never have too much snow.” Unless you live in avalanche country, which most of Rio Blanco County is not, the more snow we can use.
(I would point out there can be and have been fatal avalanches high up in the mountains, but that percentage of land is small compared to the rest of the county. However, use extreme caution in the high mountains and on the steep hillsides.)
It’s still too early to tell if we will be enjoying a White Christmas, but the weather forecast—as of Monday—does call for snow on Dec. 22 and 23. Either way, it looks likely we will see a white Christmas, it’s just too early to know if we will have that white falling on Christmas Day.

Ugly was the nicest word I could think of to describe the Denver Broncos’ efforts against the lowly Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
One critical punt and several critical passes were dropped by the top players on the Bronco roster, and, after a relatively good first half, the Broncos decided to take off the second half.
But if there is any question as to whether or not Brock Osweiler did enough to convince that he should remain the starter for the Broncos, I would say yes.
Osweiler did his job for the Broncos, starting out by completing the first 10 passes of the game.
Then the top Bronco receivers just quit playing in the second half. The running game never did work during the game and the passing game was spoiled by the receivers—not Osweiler most of the time—and three or four outright blatant screw-ups kept the Broncos away from the end zone.
Let’s hope this was another one of those games that serves as a learning experience and that the Broncos can sail to victories in the last three games of the season.