Christmas is a present

Date Published: 
Dec. 22, 2017

I have always been, even as a child, a very reflective person at Christmas. I remember, as a kid, wondering if I would live a life worthy enough that folks would light candles for me in 2,000 years.

Although I think I lost the candle challenge, I still find the magic of the season inspiring. I hope you each take a moment to appreciate the conviviality of our pickleball community, one of the warmest and most enjoyable groups with whom I have ever been associated. Perhaps because pickleballers are generally older, we have finally figured out how precious these relationships are, and value them.

I do have firsthand knowledge that, several days after this Christmas edition of Coastal Point is on the newsstand, some pickleballers will be running around their homes, excited like little kids about their new pickleball paddle presents. They will be anxious to get to Ocean City, Sea Colony, Sports at the Beach or The Plantations to try out their new gifts, and we will be looking forward to sharing their excitement.

Speaking of presents, I fell asleep last Christmas watching my grandchildren open so many presents. Santa must have had some anemic reindeer when I was a child, unable to haul as many packages and toys. Two or three presents were all we would expect, which was up from the single present my father expected. Maybe Santa started to feed his reindeer pickles with steroids, because they obviously have had much more to transport each and every Christmas the last 50 years or so.

For about a decade, I found myself in Scandinavia late every December. I can remember feeling guilty about eating the sumptuous reindeer special that the Scandinavians prepared each year, before flying home to join my family and await the arrival of the famous nine reindeer. It wasn’t part of the European trip I ever shared with my kids.

This year, I wanted no part of jumping on an airplane returning from some far away corner of the earth, but instead attended the Holiday Dinner & Dance at King’s Creek Country Club with other members of the First State Pickleball Club. I didn’t even recognize many of the folks without their paddles and pickleball gear. When these pickles get dressed up, out of their pickle brine, they look good — really shine.

I want to congratulate Kathy Casey, president of First State Pickleball Club, for this year’s festive event — 150 pickleballers attended the festivities. Dancers were overflowing into the hallways and closets as they danced to “Get Down Tonight” by the lively band Over Time.

In my opinion, this particular annual pickleball party was a major milestone for First State Pickleball Club. When the club was formed, just three years ago, there were about two dozen serious pickleballers. Six times that many pickleballers attended this event, and that 150 represent but a small fraction of all area pickleballers. We know pickleball has been growing, but to me, attendance at that party was an eye opener.

This Christmas, perhaps while you are reading this week’s column of pickleball and listening to Christmas music, take a moment to reflect on your wonderful friendships from pickleball, and offer a prayer for those who might have some challenges. I will see you soon on the pickleball courts, but first please have a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year!

Update: The Jan. 10 clinics at Ocean City, Md., filled quickly. There are still a few openings in the Jan. 16 clinic on injury prevention with Bob Cairo and the Jan. 17 Clinic at Sea Colony.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit