As we throw away the last, tattered remnants of wrapping paper, try to forget all the damage we've done to our credit card balance and wonder when we should take down that tree, it's painfully obvious that another Christmas has come and gone.
And while we ponder which presents need to be returned to the mall on Monday — traditionally the wackiest post-shopping day of the entire year — it's still not too late to come up with a Christmas wish list for those folks in the sports world who've been naughty or nice during the past year.
So if I were that jolly fat man — OK, sure, but I'm not all that jolly — here's what I'd give to the following folks:
Brett Favre: The wisdom to retire again, only this time for good. And also the good sense to use his camera phone to only take photos of other people: and never of himself.
LeBron James: A time machine. That way, he could go back about seven months and find a classier way to tell the people of Cleveland that he had decided to break their collective hearts than to announce "The Decision" in a contrived, over-hyped, made-for-TV interview with Jim Gray.
Tiger Woods: A conscience. He could put it to good use by borrowing LeBron's time machine, going back a few years to do some soul-searching and perhaps salvaging the once-sparkling reputation, career and public image that he has since destroyed.
Jordan Wynn: A strong, surgically repaired shoulder. He'll need it to help him carry the University of Utah football team into its first season as a member of the Pac-12 next year.
University of Utah: The ability to be a contender, and not a perennial pretender, in the Pac-12 Conference. Some folks don't feel like the Utes' teams will be competitive in their new league. But I think that, in time, they'll surprise some people with how competitive they are across the board.
Austin Collie: A clear head. After suffering three concussions this season, the former BYU star must somehow find a way to avoid further injury if he hopes to continue his promising career as a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.
Jimmer Fredette: An opportunity to play at the next level. The Cougars' All-American guard has been an incredible collegiate player for the past couple of years. Here's hoping an NBA team will draft him and give him a fair chance to shine and show what he can do against the best players in the world.
BYU: A successful journey into football independence. And, hopefully, a smooth transition for the Cougars' other athletic teams when they join the West Coast Conference. And as for those sports where the WCC doesn't participate? Well, we hope those BYU teams have a successful journey somewhere — anywhere.
Damian Lillard: A healthy return to the basketball court. The Weber State star's junior season ended abruptly earlier this month with a broken foot. Here's hoping he comes back better than ever next season and leads the Wildcats to another Big Sky regular-season and, more importantly, postseason championship.
Jerry Sloan: An NBA Coach of the Year award. Sure, the longtime Utah Jazz coach couldn't care less about such things. But Jazz fans and the team's front office would like to see their guy get some well-deserved recognition for a job well done, year after year after year.
Miami Heat: A seven-game series loss in the NBA Finals.
L.A. Lakers: See "Miami Heat" above. Hey, is there any way we can get 'em both to lose?
National Basketball Association: A new collective bargaining agreement. Without it, the NBA certainly seems headed for a frustrating lockout of players following this season, much like what took place in 1999.
National Football League: See "National Basketball Association" above.
Unfortunately, the NFL's 2011 season is in jeopardy for the same reason.
After all, without any NBA or NFL in 2011, what will sports fans — and sports writers and sportscasters — have to watch, write about and talk about next year?
Major League Baseball? Major League Soccer? The National Hockey League? NASCAR? The WNBA?
Indeed, a year without pro football or basketball would be like a lump of coal in all of our stockings. Thus, labor peace and tranquility in both leagues would be a Christmas gift to us all.
Instead, it looks like the Grinch is headed our way. And he's in a foul mood.
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