It's Christmas, and most of my holiday budget has been spent on seven grandchildren.
But there are a few more gifts I'd like to give.
To Sun Devil football coach Dirk Koetter, I'd give the gift of understanding that the annual ASU vs. U of A football battle is not just another game. It's a rivalry that dates back to 1937 when Arizona officials canceled the football series in protest after ASU recruiter Tom Lillico allegedly "stole" prime recruits Wayne "Ripper" Pits, Walt "Cowboy" Ruth and Tex Hopper off the Tucson campus.
If after receiving my gift, Koetter still thinks ASU vs. U of A is just another game, I suggest a long talk with Frank Kush and Danny White.
To my best friend, Tucson Amphitheater basketball coach Pat Derksen, I'd like to give a ticket that would allow him to see an entire Payson Summer Invitational Tournament. Pat has entered his teams in the tournament for the past 20 years, but usually his Irish intensity and passion gets the best of him. Refs have frequently given him the heave ho, forcing him to watch games from the Wilson Dome lobby.
To the Amphi players, I'd give a cage full of snipes. In the years they've been staying at our home in Pine while playing in the summer tournament, they've always enjoyed late-night snipe hunts in Pine Canyon. Only trouble is, nary an Amphi player has ever bagged a snipe.
To the athletes at Payson High School, I'd give a travel bus similar to the famous "Longhorn Bus" we enjoyed in the early 1990s. It had upper level seating, reclining chairs, more leg room, a bathroom and a little more power for those long, uphill pulls. Those standard yellow buses the district now uses for travel make trips to faraway Chinle and Page tough to endure.
To my good buddy Dave Rawsthorne at the Roundup, I'd give the Green Bay Packers a berth in the Super Bowl. Dave is a huge Packer-backer and the team's ups and downs this season have taken their toll on him. I sense his confidence is shaken.
To all the coaches in the Payson School District, I'd give unwavering support from the parents of the kids they've been entrusted with. We've witnessed enough coaches abandon the profession because of parental pressure and second guessing.
As I settle down today to watch the L.A. Lakers play the Miami Heat on television, I'd give Shaq and Kobe a peace pipe.
To the Phoenix Suns, my Christmas gift bag is empty. They seem to be stocked with everything they need.
And finally, to Arizona superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne and state legislators, my gift would be the notion that requiring students to pass the AIMS test to receive a high school diploma is not in the best interest of kids. The test is simply not valid in measuring how well students are learning reading, and writing and math skills.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.